Art Ok Please – The Indian Gallery On Wheels!
‘Horn OK Please’ is an expression you’re almost guaranteed to see as you take to Indian roads, or zip along our highways. An ubiquitous moniker that adorns the back of trucks large and small, the phrase itself has received much attention. However, the swoops and swirls of color that adorn it, and the art that accompanies them, have slipped under the radar – until now.
Growing up surrounded by trucks thanks to his grandfather’s logistics business in Nagpur, Farid Bawa knew these hulks of metal as intimately as one might know their favorite book. Often, he would rise early to watch the truckers prepare for their journeys, and observe the artists who painted their vehicles. Fascinated by their vibrant work, he would often speak to them about their pieces, and through these conversations, learned the basics of font, graphics and design. Now an alumni of MIT, Pune and employed at DDB & Tribal Worldwide in Amsterdam, Bawa is a stellar designer in his own right, but never forgot those early lessons that left an imprint on him.
Meet The Team
Inspired by their home and life, truckers often have odes to their villages, their lovers, their gods, their parents or even their favorite film stars decorating their vehicles! Often desiring to make their truck the most unique, the drivers encourage artists to try vivid color combinations, new forms of calligraphy, inspiring quotes and even funny punchlines to bring color to the roads.
However, the bubble burst when he learned that these painters’ livelihoods were being threatened by the advent of pre-painted trucks and sticker art. Taking on second jobs and dealing with instability, they were often struggling to make ends meet; and as someone who knew how much the artists’ work meant to them, and was familiar with the painstaking detail they lent to their work, he decided that he could not let the art form die out.
Thus, he decided to create All India Permit – an online platform where these men could not only continue to practice their art, but also earn the recognition long due to their ilk.
Armed with this idea, he contacted artists he’d known from his grandfather’s time and presented the idea to painters he met at truck building workshops, eventually managing to shortlist six of them. At first, they tried to paint on canvas, but seeing that it did not have the same effect, they began to source Cold Rolled (CR) steel sheets, the material they were already used to. The platform soon took off, and to Bawa’s delight, people began to buy their pieces, which garnered the artists fame, as well as much needed revenue (nearly all of the money earned by the sales go to the painters).
The vivid color combinations, the varied subjects, and the fact that this was truly ‘art from the heart’ appealed to not only Indians, but to people worldwide! All India Permit has exhibited in Brussels, Amsterdam and other parts of Europe, and now, they’re taking their pieces on the road again – literally! With a nod to authenticity, the All India Permit Road Trip is an ‘art gallery on the go’, where all the archived truck art is exhibited in the back of an actual truck!
The show goes on…
Starting in Nagpur, passing Jhalna and of course, having detoured at several roadside dhabas on the way, the truck is currently exhibiting at Pune Design Festival, and is then due to take a trip to Vikhroli Social (in Mumbai), where it’ll be parked on Jan 13th and 14th, and from there onto Whistling Woods School in Mumbai. With truly unique pieces on display (including a pair of hand-painted Vans), this is an opportunity you just can’t miss!
So come on down to Vikhroli Social this Sunday and Monday, and experience a slice of culture straight out of the Indian heartland!