Art and the city -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Art and the city

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: Driving down Molvi Tamizuddin Khan Road, one cannot but miss the once pleasant and different kinds of graffiti on portions of the walls of the container warehouse there. It wasn’t so long ago when these walls got their new look as part of a cityscape beautification project of an NGO. But weather conditions such as rains and the harsh rays of the sun have got the better of the walls, fading out the colours now covered in dust and pollution as the wall has also developed cracks.

Moving up on the Mai Kolachi bypass, one passes by a statue of the slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto with the arm raised to greet her people. The recent rains have, thankfully, washed the dust off it.


The black submarine at the Punjab chowrangi was removed a long time back, ever since the roundabout there required shrinking. But there is a new big silver flower, resembling a water lily, growing nearby, though not in the middle of the intersection. It is metallic silver but reflects the colours of its surroundings like car headlights or any other bright thing that may pass by it.


There were, over a decade ago, various artistic sculptures on concrete pillars lining the Defence beach on Abdul Sattar Edhi Avenue but the salt spray from the sea has also done away with almost all of these. If the authorities couldn’t maintain those, bringing them to their present eaten-away condition, they would do well to simply remove their remains as they are more of an eyesore now.


Meanwhile, one cannot help wondering about the green climbers being painted on the pillars and underside of the FTC flyover and the truck art on the Regent Plaza flyover on the arterial Sharea Faisal. Would they still be as pleasing to the eye in a few years as they are now?


“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls,” the great Spanish artist Pablo Picasso used to say.

A few years ago, there used be a really interesting sculpture made from steel, iron, copper, computer motherboards and glass. Made by artist/sculptor Amin Gulgee, the 40-foot-high sculpture created out of hieroglyphics from Mohenjodaro, named ‘Forgotten Text’, graced the Bilawal chowrangi in Clifton. But it suddenly disappeared in its entirety in 2008. The sculptor himself is clueless about its disappearance.


“It’s a mystery,” he tells Dawn. “’Forgotten Text’ took me two years to create and I had to use two cranes from the shipyard to install it,” he says. “It was built in such a way that removing it in pieces would have made the entire structure collapse. Therefore I say that it disappeared in its entirety, suddenly all at once,” he adds.


The vanishing of such a huge piece of art was a civic loss. Amin says that there should be more public art. “Because public art belongs to everybody. It is reserved not just for the elite as it is owned by the public. There should be more art in open spaces for the public here,” he concludes.


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