Truck Art

Komal Sachdeva explores the exotic and colourful paintings done on the trucks of Pakistan

You usually find art in a gallery, on a canvas or wall or even a photograph. But how would you react to see art on a mode of transportation…especially if it happens to be on four wheels which is considered the least artistic — the truck?

Such a style comes all the way from Pakistan, popularly known as truck art. This form of art usually involves every inch of ordinary trucks covered in the brightest, most vibrant colours, with the most interesting and intricate designs painted on them. The designs can range from popular motifs such as exotic birds to portraits of popular personalities and popular quotes.

The history of truck art goes back to the early post- partition time when truck drivers used to paint their truck for amusement. “Truck art originated around the 50’s, when they opened the Karachi Port. In those years there were very few sources of entertainment and truckers used to get bored while embarking on journey from Pakistan to Afghanistan that used to last 3-4 months in the past. So they started painting their truck to entertain themselves,” says Anjum Rana, founder of Tribal truck Art Foundation, an organization aimed preserve the traditional Pakistani truck art. “For them, it was a cheaper source of amusement through which they could express themselves,” she adds.

Of late this form of art has been losing popularity. Rana blames it on financial constraints of the truck drivers and to some extent new media. “These days driver choose stickers over paint as latter proves to be less expensive,” says Rana.

However, people are now becoming proactive about saving this art form and Anjum Rana is one of them. She had established Tribal Truck Art Foundation twelve years ago that works to give the indigenous art a new lease of life. Rana has found a novel idea to reinvent truck art. She uses items of daily uses such as a lantern, water cans, buckets and mirrors as a medium for truck art. “I use such items specially painted by artists in the traditional designs. I chose these items because in that way everyone can have a part Pakistani truck art with them.”

Rana has exhibited her work not only in Pakistan and India, but also abroad. She feels that such endeavors can do wonders to preserve an exotic form of art such Pakistani truck art.

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Komal Sachdeva has done her graduation in Journalism and Mass Communication form I.P.University, New Delhi and is pursuing M.A. in Convergent Journalism from A.J.K. Mass communication and Research Centre, Jamia Milia Islamia, Delhi.