Pakistani Bus Art

It’s garish but endearingly so. Back in the day, my friends and I made fun of the painted buses running around our city. However, Pakistani Bus Art took on a life of it’s own and is recognized as a legitimate art form complete with worldwide exhibits and recognition from the Smithsonian! There’s now an organized bus art group in Pakistan called “Phool Patti”! They were invited to show their artistic talents on an Amherst, Massachusetts bus — here’s an article by Ken LeBlond. Photo by the author.

Bus in Amherst, Massachusetts, painted by Pakistani artists who were invited to Amherst to show their skill and talent.

More recently, children of a Tennessee elementary school got a lesson on Pakistani truck/bus art. A Chattanooga art group, A120 organized the event featuring a painted Chevy truck. Talk about cultural bridges! In the photo the truck is painted by artist Haider Ali (who has also painted a truck in this genre for the Smithsonian) and was displayed at the Chattanooga kiddie art event.

A feature of this art is painted phrases incorporated between the motifs. Translated, the two groups of Urdu script says: “move over buddy”. And, “stop bothering me”. This kind of phraseology triggered hilarity among friends of my youth. The phrase between the painted eyes is difficult to translate but the gist of it is keeping the “evil eye” away from the girl (the truck, that is). The article I am linking to, was written by Dianna Wray of Houston and published in the free magazine AramcoWorld. Pakistani Truck Art

As you can see, bright, unadulterated hues are de riguer. Frequently, the bus drivers would endearingly name their vehicles. Growing up, my friends and I found these words hilarious.

This art developed organically when bus drivers and truckers in Pakistan took to decorating their vehicles in statement making art. This vehicle art has it’s roots in Pakistani rural art expression.

Does anything get past me without an immediate reference to fabric and sewing?

Rarely. Therefore, a rush to to the closet and fabric stash ensued. Not sure what I will do to capture the spirit of this art with these pieces but they’re here when I need them.

So, this was the thing I was obsessing over this week. Who knows what next week will bring, if anything?


3 thoughts on “Pakistani Bus Art

  1. These are such happy colors and designs – i love them. Originally coming from a place (Vancouver, BC) where it rains all the time, these are colors that would jar your senses, but in Pakistan, they feel so right in the bright sun. i didn’t really understand my love of bright colors until i lived where there is a lot sunshine. I think the point was internalized most when i went back to Vancouver for a visit and was wearing a favorite bright orange sweater. People were staring and only then did i realize i wasn’t blending in 🙂 Hah!


  2. Half of my dna is Scandinavian (Finn/Norwegian/Swedish) I have had this strong desire to paint everything ever since I discovered paint in art class as a teen. Since then, 45 years later I have painted wainscoating, baseboards, doors, trim, garage doors, bath tubs, you name it I painted/decorated it LOL! With Rosemaling, stag heads, swedish horses! Too many designs to list.
    Seeing this beautiful Pakastani art validates my genes! It absolutely must come out from us mustn’t it! I am so excited to “see” what you create! Thank You for sharing!


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