Truck art: Colour, with a dash of humour
KARACHI: The walls of the Indus Valley School gallery provide a glimpse into Pakistan’s vibrant truck art: from booming colours of the flowery patterns to the cheesy taglines, 100 students in their foundation year offered a potpourri of truck art works.
The show, titled ‘Off the Road — A Truck Art Exhibition’, opened on Wednesday. As part of their 10-day workshop on truck art, the students blended creativity with their fun side. One-liners such as ‘dekhne main doli, chalne main goli’ and ‘himmat hai toh paas ker, werna bardaasht ker‘ that are often seen on the rears of rickshaws and trucks on the roads of Karachi, were incorporated into canvases with oil paints and chamak patti (aluminium foil).
While some students played with contrasting colours to bring out desired effects, others were more thoughtful. Sabeen Yameen, a student majoring in textile, displayed a portrait of herself, titled ‘Na Maloom Maqam, Na Maloom Larki’. It depicted a girl wearing technicolour glasses, whose ears and lips were missing. According to the artist, it aims to convey a message that we should observe more and speak less. “This is me as I am less on the speaking side,” she shared with The Express Tribune.
Another student, Shireen Bilgrami, painted an avid portrait of her mother for Mother’s Day bordered with chamak patti. For her, the most exciting part of the truck art was the technique of the brush. “The brush strokes are not ordinary,” she explained. “They have to be done in circular motion as the two ends of the brush tip have two different colours so the resultant colour is often a mix of the two and somewhat distinct, too.”
While the narrative of urban lifestyle was prominent in the majority of the canvases — especially the ones communicating liners such as ‘dekh magar pyar se’ and ‘shahrahon ki shahzadi’ — Mahrukh Merchant added a different feel to her canvas. Considering the history of truck drivers — a majority hails from the northern areas of Pakistan — she added landscapes of valleys and mountains in the background of her work. Interestingly, she also incorporated a self-portrait in her work. According to her, trucks have pictures of heroines and celebrities painted. The one in hijab and pink glasses was herself, she said. “Well, this is my chance of being a celebrity,” she laughed. “I am too shy otherwise.”
A trainer of the workshop, Haider Ali, who is also the chief executive officer of truck art enterprise Phool Patti, lauded the efforts of the students. “Even though it was a short workshop, students picked up the skills quite quickly and the kind of work exhibited is really pleasing.”
Talking about truck art in Pakistan, Phool Patti founder and creative director Ali Salman Anchan, said that it is necessary to own this form of Pakistani art since it has produced popularity waves in the West as well. “The term truck art has been devised by the West,” he said. “Originally, it is known as phool patti. This should be made clear to everyone.”