Khadim Ali's practice is intrinsically entrenched in the cultural traditions of his heritage. Ali's family, originally from Bamiyan, Afghanistan, fled to the Pakistani city of Quetta to avoid persecution from the Taliban. Ali's enrolment at the National College of Arts in Lahore, provided him with refuge from persecution and the opportunity to study at the only university which taught the history and traditional techniques of miniature painting. These techniques included making wasli, the customary paper for miniature painting and fabricating delicate brushes from bird feathers and animal hair -- central to Ali's neo-miniature practice.
Vitruvian Man references Leonardo da Vinci's scientific study detailing the ideal proportions of man in which he identified a supreme ratio which governed the order of much of the empirical world. By presenting this imagery against, the intricate artisanal exercises which adorn the wasli, Ali juxtaposes Renaissance humanist teachings and semiotics with the Islamic teachings of calligraphy, painting and illumination. Khadim Ali is identifying competing value systems but also contradictions in the history of representation. The artist's concern is as much aesthetic as it is epistemological as Vitruvian Man sardonically satirizes systems of representation, education and learning in contemporary Afghanistan and by extension the rest of the world.