History of Pakistani Truck Art

One of Pakistan most popular art forms, truck art dates back to the 1920s, when truck owners started painting their vehicles in unique ways to help masses differentiate between the many lorries carrying goods from England to Sub-Continent. With time, their designs became increasingly flamboyant and complex, colours shifted from basic to bright, and ornate decorations were added to the mix. Truck art was officially born.

By 1950s, truck art flourished to become an industry, with it’s capital in Karachi and pioneers like Hajji Hussain (known for his elaborate palace frescoes and floral designs) leading the way; by then, over 50,000 artists worked tirelessly to add colour to the streets and highways of Pakistan.

In 1960s, western pop art influences made way to Pakistan, resulting in what is now known as ‘psychedelic art’. Mini buses were the first to get a makeover under the influence of western-art-meets-truck-art, and were so heavily decorated and painted that they were labelled as the driver’s ‘dulhan’ (bride).

By the 1970s, non-Pakistani figures also began to appear in truck art. Up until then, it was mostly the likes of famous Pakistani vocalist, Madam Noor Jehan, surrounded by inanimate objects, flying horses, mighty flying falcons and kohl-lined, mesmerising eyes. Then, martial arts expert and film star, Bruce Lee became hugely popular in Pakistan, and the first non-Pakistani celebrity to appear on trucks. He was followed by Lady Diana.

From the late 1980s, the government of Pakistan and enterprising individuals began to organise truck art exhibitions abroad and by the early 2000s, the genre had established itself as an exciting and vibrant ‘folk art-form’ from Pakistan

Today, truck art has travelled to most metropolitans around the world, courtesy artists like Haider Ali of Truck Artist and seasoned designers like Rizwan Beyg. It has also been translated into household items, fashion and interior decor items, some of which are now available at Bunte Markhor’s online store.

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