Akbar Behkalam was born in Tabriz, Iran in 1944, the capital of the Iranian province East Azerbaijan. From 1961 until 1964, he studied art at Tabriz Art School. After his military service he moved to Istanbul, where he enrolled at the Mimar Sinan University in Fine Arts and became the student of professor Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu.

From 1972 until 1974, he lived in different European cities, including Paris, Frankfurt, Rome and Berlin. In 1974, he went back to Iran, to teach at the Tabriz Art School. In 1976, he left Iran for political reasons, and has since lived and worked in Berlin and Brandenburg.