Colorful trucks and buses are a striking aspect of the landscape and society across Pakistan. Highly personalized designs celebrate regional treasures, legendary heroes, local flora and fauna, movie stars, myths, and treasured words of wisdom — truck art is a truly dynamic art. “All across Pakistan, this rolling folk art has turned village lanes, city streets and long-distance highways into a national gallery without walls, a free-form, kaleidoscopic exhibition in perpetual motion. The vast majority of Pakistan’s trucks, buses and motorized rickshaws are riots of color, bedizened top to bottom with eye-popping landscapes, portraits, calligraphic poetry, religious verses and wisecracking expressions of star-spangled banter.” (Richard Covington, “Masterpieces on the Go”, Saudi Aramco World)
Acclaimed artist Haider Ali has been instrumental in introducing this art form to a wider, international audience. Many people first saw his work at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival celebrating the Silk Road, where he and bodywork expert Jamil ud-Din transformed a 1976 Bedford into a masterpiece that is now part of the Smithsonian’s permanent collection.
This fall, Mr. Ali will bring his talents to Southern California in a visit organized by the Pakistan Arts Council of Pacific Asia Museum. During this one-of-a-kind visit, he will be working as an Artist-in-Residence at USC Pacific Asia Museum, completely transforming a vehicle over the course of a few weeks. Given the uniquely mobile nature of his canvas, this demonstration will also be taken on the road to share more widely with the region.
Image Credit: Photograph of a truck painted by artist Haider Ali; Courtesy of the Artist.