2012 London Olympics and Pakistani Truck Art
By Dr A. Khan
Chicago, IL


People of Pakistan love to express themselves through art and poetry. Pakistan has the unique distinction of having, in every small and big city, a large fleet of buses, trucks and rickshaws which are exquisitely painted to portray art and culture, and depict poetry. In fact, Pakistan is home to mobile museums; every other automotive vehicle on the road is an “art-and-poetry-show on wheels.” This kind of art known as the “ truck art” is unique; it is native to Pakistan.

 

This unique Pakistani art on trucks, buses and rickshaws is like a cultural GPS; its colors and patterns represent native origins, and offer a colorful study in contemporary anthropology. Using exquisite floral patterns in the background, each automotive vehicle depicts a unique theme: celebration of national heroes, portrayal of national monuments, depictions of geographic features, expression of words of wisdom in prose and poetic forms, ranging from crude to complex.

 

The art of each truck, bus, and rickshaw, tells a tale about the artistic and poetic taste of its driver. The decorative art for trucks and buses is an expensive proposition; drivers and owners spend tens of thousands of rupees to have their vehicles decorated and painted. There are hundreds of artists and skilled workers who specialize in decorating small and large automotive vehicles. It takes from couple of weeks to few months to have one truck or bus fully decorated and painted.

 

Replicas of Pakistani truck art can be found in museums all over the world. In the United States, in summer of 2002, at the Smithsonian Folk life Festival, two Pakistani artists decorated and painted a truck, which has now become a part of display at Smithsonian. In the United States the commercial and political messages are seen on the billboards, whereas in Pakistan, the automotive vehicles have become mobile billboards that carry cultural, political, artistic, poetic expressions in an exquisite manner.

 

Recently students of National College of Arts, Rawalpindi campus, demonstrated their artistic skills and talents by painting a bus to promote the 2012 London Olympics. The project was a joint venture between the British High Commission in Islamabad and the National College of Arts in Rawalpindi, with the objective of promoting cultural ties between Pakistan and Britain and to highlight the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, an event that will take place alongside the London Olympics. The cultural Olympiad will provide over 10 million people an opportunity to watch the event in Britain.

 

London 2012 is the first Olympics to offer a global sporting legacy, linking more than 12 million young people through sports in 20 countries via the international inspiration program. Thousands of young Pakistanis have been inspired to participate in sports and physical education programs. Pakistan is the 17 th country to join this program and has pledged to register over one million Pakistani children in the program.

 

 

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