Nigeria Truck Art: Colourful moving paintings litter Nigerian roads
All across Nigeria, you can see colourful paintings, illustrations and phrases on many lorries and trucks.
In Nigeria, you do not need to go to the museum to see a painting. Moving paintings are a thing in this country.
The curators of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York might want to come to Lagos or Enugu to see these paintings on the road and up close in traffic.
On a lot of Nigerian roads, you will see trucks and lorries. These vehicles are not plain or have drab typography on them. These trucks and lorries are colourful with vibrant paintings and phrases on them.
On one of such trucks, a giant eagle has a dead black snake in its mouth. A truck in the city of Kano has a painting of ‘The Old Cowboy’ at the back riding a horse. Another lorry has a painting of Samson in the Bible fighting a lion. The paintings also have religious motifs. Paintings of
Jesus Christ and Bible verses are quite popular on these trucks and lorries. In Northern Nigeria, Arabic letters and drawings of clerics and the Kaaba in Mecca are common also.
The drawings feel like posters from old Bollywood movies and Blaxploitation movies with vibrant colours. The drawings and paintings can’t be called Basquiats, rather they lean towards the artistic style seen on several of Fela Kuti’s album covers.
Lemi Ghariokwu is the artist and illustrator who brought life to Fela’s album covers. A lot of the art seen on trucks and lorries are similar to Ghariokwu’s illustrations and paintings. This style might not have a formal name in institutes of art in Europe but it is a prevalent thing in Nigeria.
A lot of the people behind these works of art do more than leave their signature on their paintings. They also leave their numbers too. This suggests that these artists use their works as billboards to attract more customers. Also, by the side, most of the paintings or illustration, the model of the truck and the speed of the vehicle is also displayed.
Nigerian truck art might just be our own graffiti for now. One wonders if we can get a photo exhibition or art exhibition of these illustrations and paintings in a museum pretty soon.