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Art on the Move in Pakistan

Artwork is seen on a decorated truck carrying sacks of wheat in Charsadda, Pakistan, May 1, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

Workers unload fruit from a decorated truck at the wholesale produce market in Faisalabad, Pakistan, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz SEARCH "FIROUZ TRUCKS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. - RTS16UMZ

Plastic bottles used to store water and a tyre stopper are wedged on the side of a decorated truck in Faisalabad, Pakistan, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

A security guard poses for a portrait in front of his favourite decorated truck at a truck stop outside Faisalabad, Pakistan, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

Artwork is seen on a decorated truck in Taxila, Pakistan, May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

Artwork is seen on a decorated truck in Peshawar, Pakistan, May 1, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

Art on the Move in Pakistan

South Asian "truck art" has become a global phenomenon

Art on the Move in Pakistan

They pollute the roads and chug along at a snail’s pace, but to their Pakistani owners the rickety trucks are moving pieces of art, commanding attention with garish portraits of flowers, Islamic art, and snow-capped Himalayan peaks.

South Asian “truck art” has become a global phenomenon, inspiring gallery exhibitions abroad and prompting stores in posh London neighbourhoods to sell flamboyant miniature pieces.

Yet closer to home some people sneer and refuse to call it “art”.

For the drivers, the designs that turn decades-old vehicles into moving murals are often about local pride. Picking the right colour or animal portrait is tougher than the countless hours spent on the road.

Truck driver Haji Ali Bahadur, who hails from the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, said green and yellow have been his colours of choice during 40 years behind the wheel.

“We, the drivers of Khyber, Mohmand and other tribal regions like flowers on the edge of the vehicles,” he said. “The people of Swat, South Waziristan and Kashmir region like portraits of mountains and different wild animals.”

Truck art has become one of Pakistan’s best known cultural exports and offshoot toy and furniture industries have been spawned closer to home.

With Pakistan’s economy picking up speed and new roads opening up trade routes to China, truck art may soon find new admirers abroad.

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