Artist on mission to show ‘colors of Pakistan’ through truck paintings

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Ali painted his first truck when he was 16 and since then he has painted everything from canvases to vehicles, from walls to shrines in Pakistan and around the world.

The third-generation artist hails from the city of Karachi, the commercial hub of the country, known as the hub of all truck art activities. Ali grew up in the Garden district of Karachi, painting passionately from the age of about seven, learning his father’s distinctive art at home like most truck artists in Pakistan. Haider Ali’s home is also his art studio and art school where he teaches his children, hoping they will carry on the family legacy.

The 42-year-old artist, who has spent much of his life creating truck art, told Gulf News that for him, truck art is a way to show “the colors of Pakistan to the world”. He continued that “This art is a passion, continuing the family tradition and promoting Pakistan’s artistic identity globally.”

Sharing one of his greatest accomplishments, Ali said his first overseas visit in 2002 to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington to exhibit Pakistani truck art was “one of the most memorable and the proudest for me and my family”. Seeing him create flawless arts with quick, spontaneous brushstrokes appealed to many outsiders at the exhibition. “Visitors and artists were simply amazed to see this unique and vibrant art from Pakistan and eager to learn,” he said.

Ali has traveled to Turkey, France, Canada, UK among other countries representing Pakistani art through his painting projects. Ali also teaches the craft to young artists in different schools in Pakistan, stimulating their curiosity and imagination. He is also part of Phool Patti, an organization that promotes truck artists from Pakistan across the world.

Two years ago, just before the onset of the pandemic, Ali established a truck art design school and studio at his residence in Karachi. He described it as the first step towards realizing his dream project: building a world-class truck art school. With this school, he aims to “introduce truck art to galleries and museums around the world, showcase Pakistan’s cultural identity and revive traditional art by encouraging digital and conventional skills”, said he shared.

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