This book is the outcome of the author's research into the archive of Pakistan artist Zahoor ul Akhlaq, and travels from a personal story of the artist (and his murder) to a larger social analysis.

'Taking off from the tragic murder in January 1999 of the Pakistani artist Zahoor ul Akhlaq, the book charts the story of this elusive artist and provides a glimpse into his prolific work. The more the author, Roger Connah, researched, the more versions of a truth emerged. Known within Pakistan as the painter’s painter, Akhlaq appears to have lived a life so public that it became secret, to the extent, as the author explores, his life became a critical fiction.

Beginning with an interest in calligraphy, Akhlaq went on to search, explore and develop ahead of his times a vibrant cultural practice in contemporary Pakistan. A permanently picaresque figure, recalling Sufi scholars from the ninth and tenth century in Asia, he was an artist-wayfarer in and out of cities like Karachi, Delhi, Lahore, Toronto, London, Montreal, Bangkok, Kabul, Tehran, Tokyo, and Venice. This book begins to recount a life in flux, a life on the move, a life exploring the traditions of Islam and the exiles and danced furies, that dancing order, within a Muslim mind. The necessity and urgency of negotiating the invasions and seductions of modernity produces unusual reversals in Akhlaq’s art and within the contemporary narratives about Pakistani society and culture. This is a timely volume which reappraises this artist and the critical fictions made about him, offering an unusual enquiry on society and culture at a time when Pakistan has never been more important.' (from publisher's website)

Includes a portfolio of the artist, and an index.

Alternative title

Art and Society in Pakistan

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Chapter headings

Book 1: Fragments from a Critical Life

Part 1: A Network of Obsessions

1 Born in Delhi

2 To Live in Plot

3 A Network of Obsessions

4 The Enigma of Departure

5 The Aesthetics of Night

Part 2: Bakwas Beyond Communication

6 Bakwas

7 The Ecstasy of No Further Communication

8 Danced Furies

9 The Book of Beginnings

Part 3: The Infinite Game

10 I Regret that I am Innocent

11 Duchamps to Ourselves

12 The Infinite Game

13 Post-Mortem

14 Misreading Islam

Book 2: Critical Fictions

Part 1: Enigmas

15 Calling All Angels

16 You Think You Know What Time it is!

17 Human Equations/Style Exercises

18 The Wounded Angel

19 Seduction and Calligraphy of All Things!

Part 2: Intimacies

20 Intimacies and Crimes of the Last Century

21 Eaters of Grief

22 The Temple of Man

23 Exist Weeping

24 'Chariya' Zahoor

Part 3: Labyrinths

25 All the Rage

26 Exiles and Roseless Days

27 I am a Snake, I am a Door

28 My Assassin, My Beloved - Stay with this Writing

Book 3: Strange History

29 Strange History: 'Self' and Culture

30 The Three Riders: Navigating Tradition and Modernity

31 (Auto)biography: The 'Musee Imaginaire'

32 Mappings

33 The Zahoor ul Akhlaq Gazatte: Documents

The Rest is Silence: Zahoor ul Akhlaq
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The Rest is Silence: Zahoor ul Akhlaq

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Introducing the Zahoor ul Akhlaq Archive

Wed, 29 May 2024, 8–9:30pm HKT