By Sameen Hassan
“We want to paint all over Karachi. We want to use our art as our weapon to end the discrimination persistent in the city. If enough funds are generated, we will gladly paint the entire city with colours of love, peace, unity and compassion” – Abdoz Arts
Art is the best way to present a nation’s soft image. It is a true representative of a nation’s culture, harmonic values and devotion towards humanity. Globally, artists are known to be peace keepers and soft hearted individuals, which is exactly why majority of the United Nations Peace Ambassadors are musicians, painters, instrumentalists and/or poets etc. different forms of art have evolved over centuries and have become a vital part of the pop culture. Over the past few years, graffiti art has developed both as a hobby and business in the country. The power of social media provided the much needed attention to the international pop culture element and today we see hundreds of graffiti artists flourishing in the country. From providing graffiti design for custom products as t-shirts, mugs, key chains and other doodle driven elements, to beautifying the walls of the city, Graffiti art has been developing rapidly.
I remember back in 2008, I found the first public graffiti art on the walls of Lahore by students of Lahore University of Management & Sciences. It was an initiative to beautify the otherwise ruined and polluted walls of the city. It was a beginning of the graffiti art on roads, in Pakistan. Also a few years ago, I covered the profile of late Rumaisa Sana, a thriving graffiti artist who lost the battle of life in 2011. It was when graffiti was still in its flourishing stages and people barely knew about the positive and enriching impact of the art on young minds and a city’s culture and its role towards creative pop culture elements. Today graffiti has become a vital part of pop culture. Be it an event or exhibition or a customized gift idea, graffiti is what makes it unique. The social media is flooded with graffiti artists creating wonders with colours and inks.
In a more recent attempt to revamp the walls of the city of Karachi and to end the much ethnic and political discrimination existent among the people of the city as evident through the slogans on the many roadsides of the city, Abdoz Arts took the initiative of “Five Walls Five Artists & 1 Pakistan”. The effort was a joint project by faces of Abdoz Arts, Humble Tariq, Wahaj Ali Khan and Umer.
While the walls of the city of Karachi shout hatred towards social and political classes, after days of enthusiastic working, the walls across Karachi’s Hyderi Market presented what was a new, revamped and softer image of the art loving, creativity packed metropolitan of the city. Of the five distinct wall graffiti done near Hyderi, the theme was Being Pakistani as a whole. “the graffiti on Hyderi walls was our first attempt and with that we wanted to present the culturally diverse & heartily espousing image of Karachi, a city that embraces people of all classes and is the heart of Pakistan.” Said Wahaj Ali Khan. The graffiti at Hyderi has been a centre of attraction for tourists, buyers and youngsters fanatic for pictures and provide not only a great background for pictures but has made the otherwise busy roadside, a good spot to stop by and thereby has also contributed towards vanishing the existent fear of being mugged among citizens of Karachi. “We want to paint all over Karachi. We want to use our art as our weapon to end the discrimination persistent in the city. If enough funds are generated, we will gladly paint the entire city with colours of love, peace, unity and compassion” said Khan.
While Abdoz boys are doing the revamp Karachi project for free, a lot of public and private sector individuals have stepped up to sponsor the project of Abdoz Art in a joint effort o Artify Karachi city. “We are looking forward to more chances to beautify the city. If the government supports us we will also paint all the spaces under the bridges to make the city not only visually better but artistically enriched,” said Khan. In addition to the graffiti work done on the walls of Hyderi under the five walls five artists and one nation project, the Abdoz boys have been involved in painting government schools and college walls with beautiful pieces of arts.
“We want to reclaim public spaces and revamp the look of the otherwise ruined walls to what is not only beautiful to the eye but moving to the heart” said Umer from Abdoz. Also a part of Abdoz projects is graffiti artist Mirchi, the first female graffiti artist of the city who has been painting symbolic pieces of art not only on campus walls but has been a part of several happening carnivals and student activities at different schools, colleges and universities of the city. While, globally Pakistan in general and Karachi in particular continues being tagged with its hard and insecure image, the stepping in of young artists and initiation of steps to promote culture, arts and sophistication is a positive step towards a softer, brighter and ingeniously revamped image of the country, its art scenario and more importantly its people!