Pakistani truck art

 

From the ornate horse-drawn carriages of the Raj to the pioneering craftsmanship featured on the Kohistan Bus Company’s fleet in the 1920s, Pakistan has a long-established tradition of decorating vehicles. The idiosyncratic designs serve as both moving advertisements and indicators of cultural affiliation. Truck artists transform village rickshaws, city buses and commercial trucks into a procession of moving colour.

The cover for Granta 112 was created by Islam Gull (above), a truck and bus artist of Bhutta village in Karachi, as part of a greater collaboration with Pakistani artists for the issue. Gull, born in Peshawar, has been painting since the age of thirteen. Twenty-two years ago he settled in Karachi, where he now teaches his craft to two young apprentices. In addition to trucks and buses, Gull decorates buildings and housewares and has worked for several consulates in Karachi, as well as travelling to Kandahar, Afghanistan to paint trucks there. Commissioned with the assistance of the British Council in Karachi, Gull produced two chipboard panels to be photographed for the magazine’s cover, using the same industrial paints with which he embellishes Pakistani trucks.

Our new issue, ‘Pakistan’, is released in the UK on 16 September and in the US on 23 September.

The visual essay in this issue is a collaboration between Granta and Green Cardamom gallery in London. We will be posting images from the collection, as well as audio commentary from the curators, each week from Thursday onwards.

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