A Cultural Journal

    Off the Road: Truck Art Comes to Karachi

    Written by: Sadeem Shaikh - Posted on: June 04, 2015 | Post your comment here Comments | 中文 (Chinese)

    Google Translation: اُردو | 中文

    Truck Art Exhibition Titled 'Off the Road' in Karachi

    Truck Art

    In the soaring heat of Karachi, art enthusiasts have something to look forward to this month. A Truck Art exhibition titled ‘Off the Road’ at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVS) brings 62 vibrant paintings for display and purchase. While the event commenced on May 27th, it is scheduled to continue till July 20th. Part of a one-week workshop conducted at IVS earlier in May, the first five canvases put on display were by renowned artists Haider Ali and Mumtaz Ahmed, as well as teacher Gul Rez. The rest of the artworks have been created by Foundation Program students. Haider Ali and Mumtaz Ahmed are renowned for their experience with Truck Art, not just in Pakistan, but in many other countries around the world. They have travelled the globe with their art, and share an impressive collection of over 100,000 works, which include crockery, furniture and truck paintings.

    Interviewing a GEO News TV anchor

    Enamel on canvas, by Mumtaz Ahmad

    The IVS gallery had not many visitors on a Wednesday evening, given that holidays have started on campus. In light of this, there was a certain thrill to observing these astounding works by myself in an air-conditioned gallery on a hot summer evening. The two well-lit atriums of the gallery featured colorful paintings atop walls which could not have been completed in just a week-long workshop. The intricate floral patterns, detailed scenic backgrounds and brightly worked pictures of local animals and veiled women set in with the relaxed atmosphere. The basic aim of Truck Art, or ‘Phool Patti’ as it was initially called, is to develop complex images by synchronizing western designs with those of Pakistan’s folk culture. The images displayed at the IVS gallery effortlessly fulfilled this purpose, embedding deeper meanings into the paintings by bringing in each artist’s unique mindset and regional heritage. Many Foundation Program painters also drew mountains, valleys and rivers as backgrounds, alluding to the Pashtun origins of most truck drivers.   

    Interviewing a GEO News TV anchor

    Intricate floral patterns in a village setting, by a Foundation Program student

    Upon closer inspection, one could vividly observe the flawless detail in each of these hand-made works. The tone-perfect strokes around the edges of many paintings evoked a glistening aura, swiftly informing the viewer of the meticulous work that goes into Truck Art. The aluminum foil (or chamak patti) used at the corners of several canvasses enabled a quick shift of gaze to virtual images of shiny trucks, rickshaws and buses occasionally seen on the roads of Karachi. Mushy one-liners on the paintings, such as ‘faasla rakh, warna pyaar hojayay ga’ furthered this connection with emotion-ridden slogans on the back of many local locomotives in the city.

    Interviewing a GEO News TV anchor

    According to IVS Gallery manager Anbrin Qureshi, the current exhibition is one of around 25 events scheduled for the year. She lauded the “extraordinary brilliance” of the students who have created these artworks in such a short time period, making Off the Road the first ever IVS exhibition to showcase works by current enrollees.

    Click to view picture gallery

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