Imagine roaming around the streets of Karachi and seeing beautiful graffiti on the walls instead of the usual “Bangali Baba: har bemaari ka elaaj” or “kamzor jism ko mota banayein”.
Wouldn’t that be relatively aesthetically pleasing for you?
Art takes a lot of forms and graffiti is one of them. The idea of art is to express yourself without having to vocalize the literal meaning behind it. In that sense, graffiti is no different than other forms of art.
Art or Vandalism?
Although law defines graffiti as a form of vandalism, this definition fails to take away the beauty which lies within it. In fact, graffiti has become widely recognized as modern art around the world. Street artists have turned the world of art upside-down and seemingly have broken the law. Yet, they are still widely applauded and accepted.
The biggest example is Banksy — an England-based street artist — who was selected by Times Magazine for its list of 100 most influential people in the year 2010, right next to people like Barack Obama and Steve Jobs. Banksy has made a name for himself by using his art to raise awareness on social issues.
The theme of his work mainly revolves around war, greed, anarchism, and fascism. This ‘vandal’ broke through the cage of negativity surrounding graffiti artists and rose above everyone else.
There is no doubt that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. This freedom of expression can take many forms i.e commentary, writing, or art.
Since art is a form of expression, it should be accepted despite the different forms it can take. It is a reminder that the city walls can speak.
Art often requires destruction before creation. Some see the destruction overpowering the creation when in fact, creation wipes out all the former residues of destruction.
This creation – be it on canvas or walls – take on the artistic expression and appeal to one’s eyes. Graffiti artists in the past used tagging to communicate but this simple tagging has evolved to large murals splashed with vibrant colours of all sorts. These murals have turned grey and murky areas to places of tourist attraction.
Graffiti and Tourism
This brings us to another benefit of Graffiti; tourism. Dead cities are brought back to life as street art attracts tourists all around the world. Canada serves as the biggest example.
Vancouver has an annual ‘Mural Festival’ where artists all around the world take a chance to transform large public areas with their art. Similarly, Toronto has a Graffiti Alley which serves as a major attraction site for tourists, this alley with its vibrant colours leaves people in awe.
Canada is proof that graffiti can be used for the greater good of society. Keeping this in mind, the youth of Pakistan should be encouraged to invest their energy in subjects like Arts and Design. You never know that their creations may, in the future, have a chance of enhancing the beauty of Pakistan.
Graffiti has been on a rise lately and law fails to effectively stop it, which is why, I believe, it is important to make a distinction between actual street art and some mere political scribbles.
Using the walls of the city to scribble your political slogans is in NO WAY justifiable. It simply makes you a tagger rather than an artist.
Graffiti, unlike the scribbles, adds to the aesthetics of the city —condemning it is equivalent to restricting the freedom of expression.
However, it is essential to note that you should not consider the entire town your canvas. Some places are to be kept off-limits, such as religious and cultural sites.
Graffiti in Pakistan
Street Art in Pakistan mostly takes the form of political scribbles which makes the city seem dirty and unappealing.
Instead of these unappealing political slogans, street art should be encouraged among the youth.
Their talents can transform grimy cities into a masterpiece. In fact, a point to note is that graffiti has recently become quite popular in cities of Pakistan, mainly Karachi.
Pakistani Graffiti Artist
A name in Pakistani Graffiti Artist community that is familiar to the masses in Karachi. He is a Karachi based emerging graffiti artist who received fame after his graffiti of Mahira Khan went viral on social media. The encouragement he received boosted his morale, and now he is a success story behind the aesthetic walls of eateries like Big Thick Burgerz and Pinch & Co.
In an interview with The Meraki Magazine, Uchong answers our questions about the future of graffiti in Pakistan:
What inspired you to take the first step towards graffiti?
It was tough to grow up as a minority in Pakistan. Communication being one of the major barriers. So for me i started expressing myself through graffiti at a very young age. That started off as a journey and then evolved to me adding artistic value to the walls of our country.
What is the future of street art in Pakistan?
The future of street art in Pakistan is bright and colorful. With the growing number of artists budding from every part of the country, soon we will have many walls covered in beautiful pieces of art that would aid in spreading positivity and prosperity.
To read the entire interview please head over to our site.
Some other well-known names include Abdullah Ahmed Khan, aka ‘Sanki King,’ a 27-year old showcasing his talent through street art.
He is the pioneer of graffiti art in Pakistan. He was in Born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Sanki was raised in Karachi, Pakistan.
Sanki aka Abdullah Ahmed Khan is a self-taught artist who used to immerse himself in the arts to keep himself occupied after the demise of his mother at the age of eight.
Sanki did art in his free time to kill boredom. Since his mother passed away when he was only eight, art was what kept him busy and became his friend.
He has gained tremendous success after his debut as a graffiti artist, this former rapper/beatboxer was able to collaborate with fashion designers and big brands like Zeb-Tan.
He has been invited to pass judgment on national graffiti competitions, address on graffiti art, and has as of late introduced his work to a fashion brand, Arsalan Iqbal.
Pakistan’s First Female Graffiti Artist
Moreover, many other less-known graffiti artists in Pakistan look up to Uchong and Sanki and hope to reach their levels, such as Annie Ajaz. Annie became the first female graffiti artist back in 2015 when she was just a 17-year old. She uses ‘Mirch‘ as the tag name to display her art.
Annie turns into the main female craftsman in Pakistan to draw spray painting, dissipating a peculiar impression of the brutality tormented nation and shading the new picture of a country that needs to go far.
Her beginning of the graffiti art originated from an inspiration from other male artists.
I started copying art work of others and learnt it quickly and my first work appeared last September,
Her beginning of the graffiti art came from an inspiration from other male artists. “I started copying art work of others and learnt it quickly and my first work appeared last September,” Annie said.
Gone But Not Forgotten
Long before these young kids, Asim Butt was the name well-known among street artists. He was a painter, sculptor, and street artists. Being a commentator, it was natural that his work displayed his socio-political interests and revoked reactions from the public against war and injustices.
Otherwise known as the ‘Rebel Angel’ by his followers. Unfortunately, he died in the year 2010 under unforeseen circumstances, yet; his name is still remembered by many.
To say street art is unappreciated would be an understatement. Calling it vandalism under the law has taken away the attention that Graffiti as a form of art deserves.
However, it is well established by now that art can take ANY form, If people recognize the beauty in something, it is ART. In that context, graffiti should be appreciated as a form of modern Art for it does exhibit all its features.