Pop Art : Summaiya Jillani

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You know her from films like Gentleman Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, Some Like It Hot etc, she was the epitome of Hollywood glamour, she was Marilyn Monroe. There’s one specific image which we all remember when thinking of Marilyn, standing over an air vent in New York City, the air pulsating up from below, her skirt twisting and contorting and that dazzling coquettish smile of hers, encapsulating the very essence of the Marilyn brand. It’s been reproduced and mimicked more times than we care to remember. But when do you ever remember seeing the big screen icon in a salwar kameez? Summaiya Jillani, a Karachi based artist, has added a Pakistani twist to this ubiquitous image. Now, minus the short white dress, Marilyn is decked in a brightly coloured Salwar, from head to foot her body is bathed in rich yellow, purple, green and red patterns, the streets of New York have disappeared and in its place is a fantastical explosion of colour. This reinterpretation has become quite a popular image on Google, with thousands searching for “Marilyn Rumaal”.

Summaiya has done something so simple yet at the same time incredibly unique. Marilyn is not the only Pop culture icon to be given a Pakistani transformation, but others such as the Beatles, Jim Morrison, Frida Kahlo and even the humble can of Coca-Cola. She takes counter culture and turns it fully on its head.

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Summaiya describes herself simply as a painter, with backache and a huge rock ‘n’ roll collection. Yet she’s doing herself a disservice, Summaiya is giving a voice to the youth, standing tall and proud, saying “this is how we see the world” and yes it may be chaotic, mad, infuriating at times, yet it is always inspirational and certainly never dull. Summaiya is taking youth art in a new and exciting direction. Destined for great things, she is most definitely an artist to watch out for in the future.

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