On the highway of art

On the highway of art

Cross-cultural

On the highway of art

You would have seen bright and colourful paintings of flowers, peacocks, women etc. on trucks  often. Ever thought of it as a full-fledged art form? If not, then meet Anjum Rana - an art curator all the way from Pakistan.

Anjum has brought to the Capital a host of household items beautifully decorated with Pakistan’s rich and vibrant Tribal Truck Art. These were on display at the India International Centre till recently drawing awe and appreciation in equal measure from Delhiites.

Anjum, a native of the North-West Frontier Province in Pak, says she has been fascinated by truck art since long. “The NWFP area, criss-crossed by a number of highways, sees a lot of truck movement. As a child, I used to admire the paintings on these trucks for hours. There are whole communities of artists in Pakistan who lovingly, and very dedicatedly, do truck art.”

“As I grew up, I realised that with printed advertisements becoming popular, truck art was slowly vanishing. The artists were becoming old, unable to climb trucks, and the new generation was also not inclined to take it up. Therefore, I decided to bring these artists together and encourage them to paint not just trucks but even regular household items. I felt, it is important to bring this art indoors to give it the respectability that it deserves.”
Since then, there has been no looking back. Anjum has exhibited goods like furniture, dinner sets, picture and mirror frames, pots, big trunks, textile and even miniature trucks and autorickshaws adorned with Tribal truck art. Besides, there are also pieces seen as it is on trucks like open-winged eagles, peacocks, fishes and scorpions.

Anjum says, “These truck drivers spend weeks, sometimes months on end, on the roads. Their trucks are in fact like a second home for them, the reason why they like the paintings to be bright and beautiful. They get them adorned with pictures of flowers, birds, lanscapes as well as their own family members.”

“Often, they also get it painted with the Pakistani flag, icons in Pakistan’s leadership, sports, films etc. like Field Marshal Ayub Khan, cricketer Imran Khan, various actors and actresses. Truck art serves as a vehicle of their dreams and aspirations. It travels with them wherever they go.”


Till now, Anjum has held exhibitions in various cities of Pakistan, UK, USA, Scotland, Jordan, Lebanon, Dubai etc., but she says the kind of love and appreciation she has received from Delhi is unmatchable. “This is the fifth time I am exhibiting in Delhi, and every time I come here, my stuff is completely sold out.”

“I guess, it is so because Indians are not unfamiliar with the rough life of truck drivers and recognise the value of Truck art. On my part, I feel happy that I am not only helping truck artists earn a better living but also saving this art from extinction. Consequently, if it helps promote better cultural understanding between nations, what better than that?”    

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