New Year, new you? Not so much, with the persisting world issues that seem to spill over from 2019: from Trump’s rather perturbed ‘major retaliation’ against Iran, to the widespread bushfire going on across Australia… there seems to be lesser things to laugh about these days, doesn’t it?
Amidst the troubling news that float our social media feeds every day, once in a while, we do catch something that makes us stop and smile a little, such as political/topical comics by Jack Ziegler for The New York Times, and Ben Jennings for The Guardian. Whereas on the home front, there are oldies like Lat with his Scenes of Malaysian Life strips, and the more contemporary digital pop artworks at Parody Parlour.
With humour that – and we quote: “put the ‘hip’ into ‘Oh my god I laughed so hard that I fell over and broke my hip and now I need a hip replacement’”, Jahow See invites us to well, see the world through a different lens: from Pink Panther donning Black Panther’s do in ‘Blackpink’, and Captain America walking in the rain with his shield atop his head in ‘Raincheck’; to Kim Jong-Un portrayed in Kim Kardashian’s iconic bared pose in ‘Keeping up with Kims’, and Donald Trump depicted in Ronald McDonald’s do in ‘Would You Like a Wall with That?’ – Parody Parlour may just help us get through 2020 with just a little grace, albeit its satiric nature.
Tell us a bit about how you started out with Parody Parlour.
I’ve always loved art and I do appreciate dark humour very much. Whenever I watch a movie in the cinemas, or flip through a magazine, I’d go home with these silly thoughts in my head about the things I have just stumbled upon; there will always be weird “what-if” scenes that pop up in my mind, and they will stick around for days until I finally express them through art.
It has always been a dream of mine to have my own brand, so when things got rather dull for me managing my sister’s business in 2015, I decided to take things up a notch with my artwork a year later. It wasn’t until I had about 50 pieces of artwork that I harnessed the courage to start Parody Parlour proper in 2018.
What can the locals expect from your artwork for Parody Parlour?
Currently, I have two collections for Parody Parlour: the debut Redirected collection is themed around the superheroes we know of from comic books and films – but being something other than “super”. Two of my favourites are ‘Why So Hungry?’ (Heath Ledger’s Joker dressed in Ronald McDonald’s do) and ‘Superbelly’ (it’s Superman but with a protruding belly) – a subtle message to tell people to mind their diet, because superheroes can put on weight too.
Whereas for the sophomore collection, Just Kidding, it features all things iconic – from famous celebrities to iconic classic paintings. One of my favourites is the ‘Girl with a Facial Mask’, which is my portrayal of Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’; while the “finished” artwork is on display in The Hague’s Mauritshuis, mine is more of a “work in progress” kind.
What are the obstacles in kickstarting Parody Parlour in this time and age, especially for something as niche as satire pop art in Malaysia?
When it comes to pop art, or art in general, it’s not a matured business venture or interest in Malaysia. It has always been difficult for me to showcase my artwork on the rack, on top of the fact that there is no proper platform for digital pop art in Malaysia. But you know, I still noticed a lot of people that enjoy my kind of humour and parodies, especially when it’s about favourite characters we know of on screen, as well as personalities that are seen in the news around the world. That’s what keeps me going with Parody Parlour.
Also, even though there is no platform for this kind of medium in Malaysia, it doesn’t mean I have to stop there. I’ve been looking into collaborations with local brands out there that share the same art direction and philosophy as my brand. I’m already in talks to work with The Alphabet Press for a very limited edition collection of art pieces, estimated to launch before the end of February.
Jahow’s works are at www.parodyparlour.com, and the newly opened multi-label A Day artisan departmental outlet located at The Intermark Mall
The article was first published in the August Man Malaysia Jan/Feb 2020 issue