The Irrawaddy

Journalist Prepares ‘Pop Art’ Birthday Tribute for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

Many people will be wishing the best for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who is still widely regarded as the hope of Myanmar, on June 19, when she turns 73.

Despite her age, the popular leader still appears full of beans and apparently much more active than her ministers, as she spoke with locals during peace talks in Mon State on Thursday, just five days before her birthday.

Hlaing Bwa is one of the many admirers who want to celebrate her birthday. The journalist-cum-artist has drawn 73 sketches of the state counselor to mark her 73rd birthday.

The artist, a big fan of Andy Warhol, the American artist and leading figure in the pop art movement, has chosen Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, to introduce this modern visual art form to Myanmar.

“I feel like pop art is still strange for Myanmar people. Pop art is about drawing public figures. So, I thought Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would make the perfect figure and subject for this. And I also want to celebrate her birthday,” said Hlaing Bwa.

The exhibition, titled “73 Sketches”, features pop art versions of 73 portraits measuring 12×10 inches plus a 5×15-foot illustration depicting 73 figures of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

“Because of her influence, I had difficulties depicting her character. Only after failing with around 20 paintings, could I grasp it. Deep colors do not match her. They make her look aggressive. So, I mostly used sweet colors and focused on her beauty,” Hlaing Bwa said.

He has also incorporated a famous poem by one of Myanmar’s most celebrated poets, Zaw Gyi in the big painting. “Pann Pan Lyet Pe”, which metaphorically translates as “I don’t mind difficulties” is a favorite poem of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

“There are a lot of challenges for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at present. But she has endured them and keeps going. This poem relates to her life and her efforts at state building. So, I have incorporated this poem in the painting,” said Hlaing Bwa, who is the deputy editor-in-chief of Democracy Daily, a Burmese-language daily.

The exhibition will be held at the Ahla Thit Gallery on University Avenue Road near Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s residence from June 19 through June 21.