From shadowy times to vivid walls

Published: April 17, 2015
Sanki’s story is mentioned in the international book ‘Street Messages’ by Nicholas Ganz. PHOTOS: COURTESY: SANKI KING

Sanki’s story is mentioned in the international book ‘Street Messages’ by Nicholas Ganz. PHOTOS: COURTESY: SANKI KING


Colour didn’t merge easy in Sanki’s life. A young boy who lost his mother at a tender age found the perfect distraction. Being a loner, he picked up the hobby of painting and became an artist — painting first at his home, he developed into a street artist, to the best of his ability.

Sanki recently got noticed and his story was captured in the book Street Messages by Nicholas Ganz, which was published and launched in Sweden, recently. The book gives details into more than 80 artists worldwide and delves into the history of street writing. He has been mentioned alongside internationally famed artist Bansky. Being the only Pakistani featured in the international book, Sanki has been labelled as a pioneer in his field.

Abdullah Ahmed Khan aka Sanki King, at 24, has accomplished a great deal. Some of his glinting vibrant works include, ‘Love Karachi’ on a bus painted all in red. Another one titled ‘Flying Kiss’ adorned on the walls outside Arts Council, Karachi.

Sharing his tale; he recounts his childhood, saying, “I loved art as a kid, it excited me very much and today I feel the natural connection to graffiti.”

His most poignant designer collection inspired by graffiti is called ‘Desirably Distressed’, which came out in March this year. Elucidating on it, he says, “Three years back, I painted a shutter in Arsalan Iqbal’s store. Since Iqbal travels a lot, he finds graffiti very inspiring.” Adding on the project, he says, “We worked on a collaborative venture for the next 10 months and it got published in the late March issue of Paparazzi magazine of Pakistan.”

On the extent of graffiti art making sense to local Pakistanis, he notes, “I don’t know if the common Pakistani will read it or not. Those who will read it will see how people can do great things with text.” Discussing his work ethic, he adds, “Most of my work is motivational work. I believe something positive can come out of it — that’s my ideology.”

His most famous slogan on the walls of Karachi remains, “There should be a Karachi in every country.” On whether or not political landscape should pave the way for cultural insights, he asserts, “Yes, it sure must change. We need to definitely endorse more art.”

Elaborating on art conceptions on the walls of Karachi, he says, “Graffiti is doing pretty well on the walls. But the beginners are going into a commercial phase. Street art, in my opinion, should have a message.” Talking about the newfound flourishing art form, Sanki says, “It’s growing in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad but not many people are the hardworking sort.”

In a few weeks, the artist will be busy conducting a two-day workshop regarding graffiti at NCA branch in Rawalpindi.

Besides graffiti crafting, the artist will be involved in the ‘I Am Karachi’ project with IVS. The art initiative calls for artists to ‘Reimagine the Walls of Karachi’ and paint them.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th,  2015.

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