When an artist falls in love with a city, it happens in two ways. There’s the outsider who sees it from a fresh perspective, appreciating the scenes that locals often dismiss (sometimes unnecessarily so). And then there are those who are born and raised in the city and are able to savor the nuances and subtleties that take years to truly understand. So Chun Man falls into the latter category, and his drawings seek to capture every little detail of Hong Kong, the city he grew up in.
Under the moniker Pen So, he draws black-and-white sketches that range from detailed cityscapes and renderings of historic Hong Kong architecture to moments of mundane daily life and dystopian reimaginings of the city. “Many of us who live here take the urban environment for granted,” he says. “But the city keeps being built and evolving over time. Therefore I want to record everything while it still exists.”
他以 Pen So 为名创作了一系列黑白素描作品，将细致的城市景观、历史悠久的香港建筑、平凡的生活场景，乃至在这座城市中滋生的反乌托邦式幻想等等，统统以绘画的形式记录下来。他说：“许多港人都对身处的环境早已见怪不怪了，但其实，这座城市一直随着时间的流逝不断演变。因此，我想趁一切还未改变之前，把印象中熟悉的香港记录下来。”
When possible, So uses his own photos for reference, drawing the snapshots out with ink pens and fudepen brushes on paper. Each piece takes about eight to ten hours total and most are A3 size, although some are smaller. He often draws in a traditional comics-art style, which has become his signature aesthetic.
平时在创作时，蘇頌文常常以实景拍摄照片作为参照，再用墨水笔和毛钢笔（Fudepen）在纸上临摹出来。每幅作品大约需要 8 到 10 个小时完成，通常都是 A3 纸大小的篇幅，偶尔会更小一些。他沿用传统的黑白漫画创作方式，也渐渐成为了他的标志性风格。
So’s idea of creating a historical record can be quite literal at times, with realistic drawings of buildings and landmarks. Some of these buildings still exist as shells of their former selves while others have been completely demolished. “Historic sites have so many stories and so much character,” he says. “New architecture is just a bunch of glass walls.” For example, Kowloon Walled City, the ultra-dense, towering enclave that was demolished in the ‘90s lives on in his catalog. The withering State Theatre, which faces imminent redevelopment soon, is captured in its past glory as well.
He also seizes on more fleeting moments that come and go, centered on the city’s inhabitants. The lives of street vendors and newspaper salesmen are just as celebrated in his works as aging storefronts and architectural feats.
Despite his love for the city, So also likes to imagine Hong Kong within the throes of disaster. Pulling inspiration from horror movies, he often draws the city in total collapse, with whole city blocks destroyed and skyscrapers toppled over. Zombie apocalypses are fair game as well. “Hong Kong doesn’t face many natural disasters, so people here don’t have a strong sense of urgency in this regard,” he says of his interest in destruction. “I hope my work can be a reminder for them.”
In So’s first book, Hong Kong Havoc, readers view the city through the eyes of a character living through a disaster. It’s drawn like a visual diary of the main character. Readers can also add to it by filling in blank post-it notes and other spaces within the book. He’s continued that interactive element with his latest graphic novel, Trap, challenging readers to research and solve puzzles to learn more about the book. “To find out the ending, readers need to search online and view certain Facebook posts and news stories,” he says. “I try to really engage my audience to make them think more.”
在蘇頌文发行的第一本画册《Hong Kong Havoc》（香港浩劫）中，观众可以身处灾难的视角反观这座城市。画册以日记的形式呈现，读者还可以填写书中的空白处来对书中的剧情进行联想。在他的最新绘画小说《Trap》（陷阱）中，So 延续了互动环节，希望尽可能发散读者的想象力，同时也加深了他们对整本书的理解。他说：“你在书中并不能找到结局，读者需要上网搜索，查看一些 Facebook 帖子和新闻报道。我希望能让读者与我的作品进行有意思的互动，引导他们产生更多关于香港的思考。”
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Contributor: Mike Steyels
Chinese Translation: Olivia Li
供稿人: Mike Steyels
英译中: Olivia Li