Besides brush-and-ink painting, Fong So also works on woodcuts and, occasionally, linocuts.
He had his first portfolio of prints in 2002: a total of 19 linocuts and one woodcut as illustrations for a travelogue, Walking on the Melting Ice, written by Hark Yeung. The 20 small prints was first shown in the 2003 exhibition “City Life II: Hong Kong & Beyond”, together with his paintings and Hark Yeung’s photographs.
Another portfolio of 15 woodcuts was made in 2006 for a collection of writings by Bill Barron, If You Get Far Enough Away…. The book, consisting of stories mostly true, was published in 2007. The 15 illustrations for this book can be put together to form a composite image showing the head of a Cape buffalo. In this collection, the anxiety-filled Night of the Buffalo tells a story set in a wildlife reserve in Bostwana, Africa.
Woodcuts were also included in Fong’s 2008-09 portrait series, My Family and My City: People and History. Unlike what he had done in the past, he began to make much larger woodcuts and multi-colour prints. Woodcut prints are also included in his 2010-11 series, The Centenary of China’s 1911 Revolution, and the 2012-18 series, The World after 1989.
His latest series is Pandemic woodcuts. Executed in 2020, it was a disrupted project.
Love and Peace 愛與和平
2020, woodcut 木刻
In April 2019, nine pro-democracy campaigners were convicted over the role they had played in the 2014 Umbrella Movement. It was an over-two-month-long protest movement occupying three city centres in Hong Kong. In 2013, when three advocates began to call for a movement of civil disobedience, they named it “Occupy Central with Love and Peace”. The three advocates were among “the Umbrella Nine”. The printing plates of this woodcut were engraved in 2019 and the prints were made in 2020. [See the category “Pandemic Woodcuts”]
Project gallery (Please click the image to view it in full)
1. Two Fictional Figures 小説人物
2000, linocut 膠板, 20 x 15 cm
Two old women, one fat and one thin. [One of the 20 illustrations for a fiction, Walking on the Melting Ice, written by Hark Yeung.]
兩個老婆婆，一胖一瘦。[給黑楊的小説Walking on the Melting Ice的插圖，共廿張，此其一。]
2. The Three Men of Virtue 三仁
2012, woodcut 木刻, 51 x 79 cm
From left to right: Chen Guangcheng, a blind and self-trained lawyer, left China and went to the US. Gao Zhisheng, a rights lawyer, was detained intermittently and tortured. Li Wangyang, still defiant after being imprisoned for years, was found dead in the hospital after interviewed by media from Hong Kong. [From the series “The World after 1989”]
3. Rage 憤
2012, woodcut 木刻, 61 x 91.5 cm
Originally an act of showing extreme anger and disrespect in the Arab world, now people use it to make strong political statements. [Also included in the series “The World after 1989”]
4. Feeling Bothered 凝重
2016, woodcut 木刻, 64 x 89 cm
In a cartoon exhibition marking the 27th anniversary of June 4, five participating artists showed up with the presenter at the opening: (left to right) Sanmu (presenter), Fong So, Zunzi, Malone, Apink, Emu. [Also included in the series “The World after 1989”]
5. Waiting 等待
2011, woodcut 木刻, 86 x 61 cm
The Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony of 2010. The prize was awarded to the imprisoned Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo in absentia. His absence was symbolized by an empty chair. At the ceremony, the Norwegian Solveig’s Song was selected and sung to pay tribute to Liu. [Inscriptions are the lyrics in Norwegian, English and Chinese. From the series “The Centenary of China’s 1911 Revolution”]
6. Frightening Selfies 自拍像
2020, woodcut 木刻, 61 x 89 cm
In late March 2020, after the WHO declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, a number of photos (selfies?) of frontline medical workers appeared online showing their faces with abrasions from long-time wearing of facemasks and protective goggles. 18 of them were grouped in this woodcut; and 16 prints were made. Of the 16 prints, 15 are rendered in contrasting colours and the remaining one only in black and red ink. [See the category “Pandemic Woodcuts” for the full-colour version] -FS