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‘Truck art’ tradition trundles along in Pakistan

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

Drivers rest on beds at a truck stop outside Faisalabad, Pakistan, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz SEARCH "FIROUZ TRUCKS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.

Drivers rest on beds at a truck stop outside Faisalabad, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

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’.

Haider Ali – born with a knack for truck art

 Plastic bottles used to store water and a tyre stopper are wedged on the side of a decorated truck in Faisalabad, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

Plastic bottles used to store water and a tyre stopper are wedged on the side of a decorated truck in Faisalabad, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

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

Artwork is seen on a decorated truck outside Faisalabad, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

Artwork is seen on a decorated truck outside Faisalabad, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

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

A security guard poses for a portrait in front of his favourite decorated truck at a truck stop outside Faisalabad, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

A security guard poses for a portrait in front of his favourite decorated truck at a truck stop outside Faisalabad, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

“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.”

Pakistani truck art through camera lens

Artwork is seen on a decorated truck in Taxila, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

Artwork is seen on a decorated truck in Taxila, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

Decorations cover the gear shift of a decorated truck outside Faisalabad, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

Decorations cover the gear shift of a decorated truck outside Faisalabad, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

Speakers and a fan are seen in the cab of a decorated truck in Faisalabad, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

Speakers and a fan are seen in the cab of a decorated truck in Faisalabad, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

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.

A security guard poses for a portrait in front of his favourite decorated truck at a truck stop outside Faisalabad, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

A security guard poses for a portrait in front of his favourite decorated truck at a truck stop outside Faisalabad, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

The post ‘Truck art’ tradition trundles along in Pakistan appeared first on The Express Tribune.

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