Lahore has now been painted in an amusing mix of colour. Mehreen Kasana speaks to Mudassar Zia, the man behind graffiti wall paintings in Lahore
Graffiti is labeled as one of the most outspoken and ‘spunky’ forms of contemporary art. It has been a catalyst for social reform, national unity and freedom of speech. Graffiti is now part of our very own city: Lahore.
The walls in Gulberg have never looked better and funkier, and the credit goes to Mudassar Zia and his team of student volunteers at The Message Welfare Trust. Mudassar took inspiration from the art project initiated by Mustafa Kamal at the Indus Valley School of Architecture in Karachi. The project entitled ‘I Own Karachi’ was a competition held among students for the purpose of constructive art. “You must have seen anti-chalking messages on the walls in Lahore,” Mudassar told iWrite. “But we thought that there could be a better, more aesthetically pleasant way of decorating walls. Thereafter, we started painting the walls in Gulberg.”
The graffiti art is located in Gulberg at several intersections. Carried out by Mudassar’s team, the project was sponsored by Nippon Paint Pakistan. “We covered fifty walls in nearly two days.” Mudassar told iWrite. Graffiti is not a conventionally accepted form of art; his team faced opposition and criticism from both pedestrians and policemen. “We received an NOC from the District City Government of Lahore and it made it easier for us to continue painting,” he said. Students from NCA, LUMS, UET, FAST, KC, HEC and COMSATS participated to splash colors on various walls in Gulberg. The theme of the wall paintings was positively patriotic with images of typical Pakistani culture: rickshaws, veiled rural women, Minar-e-Pakistan, doves, and trucks with jingle bells.
Mudassar said that his idea was not an extraordinary one; he believes that anyone and everyone can pick up a brush and do the same. He intends on painting more energetic and positive graffiti in other areas of Lahore. The painted walls on Zahoor Elahi Road and Karshi Lane have definitely made the area look distinctively upbeat. This project is in its first season, says Mudassar, and will start its second season in September 2010.
The street art has received an overwhelmingly positive response from the citizens of Lahore. Indeed, such art is appreciated in an intensely aggravating political state such as the one in Pakistan. “The Pakistani population comprises 70% youth. I think that if all of us simply leave a colorful, patriotic message on these dreary walls, a change can be brought. It could even bring a revolution in our country.”
If you have the creativity to impress others with your art, you can become a volunteer of Message Welfare Trust’s street art competition by simply visiting their official website: http://www.messagepk.org
Mehreen Kasana is a student at the Forman Christian College in Lahore, and is currently
interning at iWrite