The Significance of Mobility and the Artistic Practice of Zahoor ul Akhlaq
Mobility informs the work of the Pakistani artist and teacher Zahoor ul Akhlaq (1941–1999), who developed an aesthetic that is marked above all by his endless explorations of space as an abstract system. Through study visits to London and Yale, and exploratory travel in South, Central, and West Asia, the artist developed a visual language based on the spatial and structural division of a Mughal miniature painting and a traditional manuscript page, the foundation of which is a gridded pictorial ground and a rectangular frame. This article analyzes the way that mobility inscribed itself onto Akhlaq’s works by viewing his work in terms of its processual, dynamic, transgressive, and transcultural qualities. Given the diversity of the cultural and historic background that informs Akhlaq’s art practice and his conceptual approach to art making, this paper demonstrates that Akhlaq’s grid and frame can be seen as the formal properties that transcend national confines and the then prevalent ideas of a self-contained culture.
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