With a brush in his hand and a pattern in his mind, Haider Ali looks every bit an artist completely engrossed in his masterpiece. The only difference is that his canvas is the body of a truck!
For this famous Pakistani truck-artist, the truck that he is painting now is the closest to his heart, as it is going to reflect the Indo-Pak bonhomie. "I have travelled across the globe and painted trucks for various museums. However, doing this in India is very special. I wish that the border separating the two countries opens up so that more and more people get to appreciate my art," Ali says.
The famed Pakistani artist has been in Amritsar since last week painting two vehicles to be displayed at 'Sarhad', a food court opened recently near Attari border, some 27km from Amritsar. Ali finished painting one truck for 'Sarhad' in a matter of just three days and is presently working on the second one. "I wish to take this art across the world and give it the recognition it deserves. In Pakistan, truck art is a rage and how I wish it picks up across the world as well," Ali says.
Ali, who has been painting trucks since he was seven years old, learnt the art from his father. Ali has been invited the world over to display his talent. He has exhibited at the museum of Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC and painted a truck in Luton, England, for a special Truck Art exhibition at Luton's Stockwood Discovery Centre in March and April 2011. He recently visited Turkey and painted a car there.
What's truck art?
The traditional and modern arts of Pakistan enjoy huge potential of introducing Pakistani culture to the world. The artists associated with Truck Art have furthered the cause. When the seaport was built in Pakistan, truckers began decorating their trucks with brightly-colored, richly-detailed designs and embellishments depicting their aspirations and dreams.
Haider Ali grew up watching his father and uncles do this in his village in southern Punjab and learned quickly. In addition to decorating trucks, he now makes miniature decorated trucks as well as traditional items used by truck drivers such as bowls, plates and kettles.