The philosophy of Taiwanese artist Pan Chunling is perfectly summed up in the first line of her Instagram bio: “Every little thing has a small story behind it.”
Whether it’s a street vendor grilling sausages, a cyclist biking through a narrow alleyway, or an old man waiting his turn in front of a packed barbershop—these quotidians scenes we come across are often quickly forgotten, replaced in our short-term memory by more important matters. However, these seemingly trivial moments are what gives a city its vivacity, and they’re the moments that Pan chooses to highlight in her work. Her art looks away from the extravagant side of city living, focusing instead on street-level happenings and the minutia of daily life. These are the stories that she finds to be the most meaningful, the most cinematic. Using pen and watercolor, she recreates moments of urban connection in calming colors.
打开台湾艺术家潘纯灵（Panpan）个人作品的 Instagram 首页，一句个性签名印入眼帘 —— “再细小的事物也有自己故事”。
One of Pan’s favorite pastimes, aside from traveling and drawing, is people watching. “I’ll observe someone and take in their every movement,” she says. “When you look close enough, there’s a lot of beauty to be found in the ways a person interacts with their surrounding environment.”
In 2016, on a solo trip to Melbourne, Australia, she experienced frequent bouts of loneliness. But whenever that feeling sunk in, she’d open up her notebook, find a bench, and begin sketching strangers who caught her eye. These sketches wound up as the earliest entries of what is now Microart, a collection of works that showcase everyday life as she understands it. With passing time and more stamped passport pages, her sketchpad began to fill up with some of her fondest memories of Beijing, Taipei, Thailand, and more.
平日工作的闲暇之余，潘纯灵喜欢一个人画画和旅行，并且有一个特别的爱好——观察路人。她说：“我会观察他们无意识的一举一动，很多时候仔细观察当下，觉得很美，那种美是人跟物之间产生的互动跟张力。” 2016 年，潘纯灵一个人从台北去墨尔本旅行，孤独的时候她便拿起笔描绘过路的景象，不知不觉地沉浸在自己的世界中。这趟旅行也开启了她的绘画系列《Microart》，而后每当周游各地，潘纯灵都会带上她的画具。不同城市的街道，都成为她的调色板，你会看到老北京胡同、台北旧货当铺、曼谷的路边摊等等。
Even the most ordinary of scenes have the potential to light Pan’s creative spark, and under her touch, these mundanities simmer with emotion. “I’ve been asked, ‘Why look to these unremarkable moments for inspiration?'” she says. “But to me, these moments form the very fabric of a city’s personality.”
You won’t find bombastic colors or exacting line work in her art. Pan’s works like the hazy recollection of a distant memory—not quite perfect but no less beautiful. There’s also a warmth that she imbues through the use of watercolor, one that feels real and human. Pan’s artworks are also designed to be easily understandable. The scenes are minimal but straightforward, and the succinct information that’s offered on each page leaves room for viewers’ to fill in the blanks. “I’m not that technically proficient,” she confesses. “I use simple colors, and I’m not great at drawing light and shadow. But the negative space I leave is intentional. It helps draw attention to the main subject and whatever they’re up to.”
The bustle of modern life can be overwhelming, and within the urban cacophony, it can be hard to appreciate simplicity. People are too caught up in the pursuit of money, fame, and recognition, but Pan is indifferent to these vapid aspirations. She recognizes there’s plenty of meaning to be found in mundanity. “Real life shouldn’t just be a nonstop highlight reel, and art shouldn’t be made in hopes of attaining fame or fortune,” she says. “I do what I do because I want to show the world through my eyes. There’s a gravitas to ordinary moments, and it’s what I want to show. This approach has made me more mindful, taught me how to quiet my mind, observe the world around me even more closely, and made life that much more interesting.”
深处嘈杂与喧嚣，让忙碌的人们渐渐忽视生活本来的样子，一些人喜欢灯红酒绿的生活、一些人顿错在金融山脉的攀登之中，但对于 Panpan 来说，即便没有光鲜夺目的事物，身边的平凡已足够伟大。她认为：“真实的生活不该都只呈现光鲜亮丽的样貌，创作目的也没有追求名利，单纯想表达我看到的，跟观者产生生活上的共鸣。这些平凡无奇的事物在我的作品成为很重要的主角，会想更用心、更安静的观察周遭细节，让生活变有趣。”
A simple image can carry a wealth of meaning and the humdrum of life can still be poetic, all you need is the right perspective. That’s the ethos Pan hopes to pass on. With her art, she hopes to encourage more people to look closer at the world around them so that they too can discover magnificence in the ordinary.
再小的画作，仔细一看，却大有来头；即便再微观的世界，也饶有不凡。这或许正是 Panpan 想要告诉我们的哲理。因为在平凡的生活里，总埋藏着那些了不起的人生。