The familiar block printing
The first familiar trait across the displayed West African designs was the block printing. In Pakistan, traditional, ancient design such as the ajrak is made through a labor-intensive process of block printing. Similar techniques traveled from the Dutch West Indies (now Indonesia) to West Africa during Dutch 19th-century colonization of both areas. The prints pictured above are not solely West African or Dutch, but have Indonesian roots that can be seen in pieces such as the batik.
The bold coloring
Pakistanis (and South Asians in general) are not shy about wearing bright, loud colors. We have written about how much color there is in every facet of Karachi life. The same brightness can be seen throughout this exhibit and the bold rendering across each piece is undeniably delightful to our team. From fashion aficionados or history whizzes, you are bound to find the same joy while attending this exhibit. Each piece's corresponding narrative speaks to its rich origins in a way we can't fully do justice to here.
The subtle storytelling
The intertwined stories of colonizer and West Africans. No faces in digital printing until recently but now do it with Imran Khan, as they did with President Barack Obama. A form of counter-culture using old sayings and reclaiming them or mocking them as society progresses in a different direction.
The re-purposed styling
Both in Pakistani and West African designs, screen printing and old styles and old pieces into new fashion. Reducing waste while paying tribute.