2013 Roundup: Truck art exhibitions and displays

Around the world, truck art from Pakistan was celebrated and often combined with local cultural traditions.

In September, truck art was prominently featured at the Hindu festival Durga Puja in Calcutta. Though he traveled to India with the expectation that he would be painting a truck, artist Haider Ali painted one of the pandals, or structures used to carry the Gods, that are paraded during the festival. Truck art was selected as a theme for the Durga Puja because of its potential to build relations between the two nations. The music and film stars who are common subjects of truck murals, such as Madhuri Dixit and Ataullah Khan, are an important common element. The Daily Mail has some pictures of the pandal while Haider Ali was painting.

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India vs. Pakistan: Truck Art Rivalry?

There is a thriving vehicle decoration sector in both countries, but when it comes to their decorated vehicles, Pakistan’s are more vibrant, intricate, and labor intensive. Each part of a Pakistani truck is covered as part of a canvass. Indian vehicles, while colorful, pay less attention to the whole vehicle and focus more on individual elements, which may not be interconnected.

According to one report, Pakistani truck decoration developed to differentiate their vehicles from their neighbor’s. That account differs from most other accounts of the origins of Pakistani truck art, but regardless of its accuracy, it does underscore the divergent styles of vehicle decoration.

Al Jazeera has coverage of a truck repair and decoration workshop somewhere in India.

Note the TATA insignia on Rana, which has no embellishments. In contrast, Pakistani trucks artists craft premade metallic flourishes that adorn the cowling and embellish the Hino or Bedford insignias, the two most common makes of Pakistani trucks.

While Pakistani vehicles are decorated with reflective tape and paint, Indian trucks seems to use more pattern-cut decals, and, in the case of the trucks interior, glossy posters. Both are rare on Pakistani trucks. Indian vehicles seem to have fewer idyllic scenes. Though some of the motifs, such as a peacock, are similar, the entirety of the Indian truck is not used as a canvass, but only selected scenes are painted.

The narrator seems impressed that the Sikh workshop owners have been in business for six years. In Pakistan, the norm is artists who have been working for decades lifetime. While a Pakistani truck will require teams of painters to prepare, as well as a separate source for decoration pieces and additional accessories, from the report it looks like the Indian workshop leaves it up to a couple workers.

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