ISLAMABAD: Truck art has always been popular in Pakistan and often reveals much about regional trends and ethnic aesthetics.
Much like billboard painting, another indigenous form of art created in Pakistan is truck painting. The colourful floral patterns and creative depictions of heroes with calligraphy of poetic verses are an established part of Pakistani transport tradition. Drivers use materials ranging from wood, metal, jangling chains, shiny objects to 3D creations to decorate their trucks.
According to a private news channel report, adornment of their vehicles has developed into a cultural practice for drivers in Pakistan and it is not only significant for drivers but also casts an influence on others. Over the years, truck art has gained recognition as not just an art form, but as a means of expression. “Truck art is also a form of folk art painted with bright colours having queer pictures and simple pieces of poetry on them that are a representation of values, aspirations and dreams of not only the transporters but also of the painters, and such art has a social impact on people,” said Maryam, a design student at the National College of Arts. She said this impact might elevate awareness among people about significant issues in a simple manner.
Maryam said the issues like population control, health and cleanliness could be extraordinarily conveyed to the populace both in rural and urban areas through this work of art. The art of decorating trucks gained popularity during the Afghan War when trucks were used to propagate messages.
The truck bodies are immaculately decorated by the street artists who can be found at truck stands in Badami Bagh, Lahore, Sariab Road, Quetta, Hawkes Bay/Mauripur Road, Karachi and Pir Wadhai, Rawalpindi.
The artists paint the entire truck in vibrantly coloured patterns. The artwork can even tell you where the truck is coming from. “Every city’s artists have their own signature way. Trucks decorated in Quetta and Peshawar get lots of wood trim, whereas those in Rawalpindi get lots of plastic decoration,” said Asif, a truck painter in Badami Bagh. “Karachi excels in using reflective tapes while camel bone decoration is used by the artists of rural Sindh,” he added. Asif said truck decoration takes 10 to 15 days and costs US $100-700.
Images such as birds, lions, flowers, cypress trees, horses, actors, cricketers, politicians, winding roads with chalets, mountains, lakes, air carriers, helicopters, fighter jets are common sights on trucks. These images can also suggest the driver’s background and hometown. “Most of the Pashtun truck drivers demand paintings of sceneries, birds like pheasant and eagles and pictures of leaders like Ayub Khan and Imran Khan,” said Zahid, another truck painter.
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