KARACHI: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has destroyed one of the only spots of colour at Jinnah International Airport to construct a new canteen. A wall mural, painted a few months ago by Italian wildlife artist Maurizio Boscheri with the help of local artists such as Phool Jee and Sabir of Sabir Art, depicted Pakistan’s national animal, the markhor.
Boscheri said he hopes the destruction of the mural was not intentional. Speaking to The Express Tribune via email, he said the project was very special to him. “It took us around one week for the execution of the project with local artists Phool Ji and Sabir Art but before the execution itself there was a whole process of conceptualisation. We decided to paint the markhor to show the world of the country’s beauty that might not be as famous, he said. He added that the CAA chose the particular location for the mural itself.
CAA’s Senior Public Relations Manager Pervez George did not comment but its Director of Coordination and Media Manager Aamir Mehmood said, “The canteen will be relocated elsewhere”. But will this really happen and is it even possible?
Boscheri is inconsolable, as is Phool Jee. “I immediately thought it was by mistake, in the sense that those who did it were just obeying orders without thinking of the consequences,” said Boscheri. “Obviously I was not happy and it saddened me,” he said.
It has saddened the local artist community as well. Phool Jee said he came to know about the incident approximately four days ago and informed Boscheri, who was completely taken aback.
“I hope they can tell me it was not their intention to destroy the mural,” said Boscheri about the CAA officials.
But art is meant to be created, not destroyed. “The only legacy that human beings leave for the future generations is through works of art,” said Boscheri. “Art will always transcend the contingency of time and space and is a means of bringing people and societies closer to each other,” he explained.
Despite this great disappointment, Boscheri is not discouraged and will indeed come back to Karachi to create new art. “I have already visited Pakistan thrice in 2016. After my exhibition at Mohatta Palace last year, I am going to have one in Lahore in April, which means I am going to come back soon,” he said. “I fell in love with the art, culture and people of Pakistan. The only thing I would like to know is whether the mural was destroyed intentionally,” he said.
Officials at the Italian Consulate were unable to comment on the subject.