Nguan

“I’m doing more for the country’s image overseas than our tourist promotion board,” says the photographer Nguan. “I’m a better liar than they are.”

Singapore looks like a pastel-tinted dreamscape of brutalism and loneliness, with an occasional flower or rainbow mixed in, through the lens of Nguan.

Born and raised in the city-state of 5.4 million people, Nguan captures his birthplace like no one else. “I was looking for an original way to present the city,” he tells CityLab. “I decided on a look that made every setting appear like a painted theatrical set.”

Like Cheuk-ning Chung’s portrayal of life in Hong Kong’s estates, Nguan is drawn to concrete towers and lonely strangers. “I like the monolithic, cold, brutalist structures the best,” he says. “I can romanticize them; they give me more to do.” As dark as that sounds, his use of color provides an odd sense of comfort in each frame. Once you start scrolling through his Instagram it’s hard to stop. And he knows it.

“I’m doing more for the country’s image overseas than our tourist promotion board,” says Nguan. “I’m a better liar than they are.”

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Homes in Amsterdam are pictured.
    Equity

    Amsterdam's Plan: If You Buy a Newly Built House, You Can't Rent It Out

    In an effort to make housing more affordable, the Dutch capital is crafting a law that says anyone who buys a newly built home must live in it themselves.

  2. Design

    Cities Deserve Better Than These Thomas Heatherwick Gimmicks

    The “Vessel” at New York’s Hudson Yards—like so many of his designs—look as if the dystopian world of 1984 has been given a precious makeover.

  3. North Carolina's legislature building.
    Life

    Should Government Agencies Move Out of Capital Cities?

    North Carolina may relocate its Division of Motor Vehicles from Raleigh to boost lagging Rocky Mount. Can this be a national model for decentralizing power?

  4. A photo of a police officer guarding the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal.
    Perspective

    The Troubling Limits of the ‘Great Crime Decline’

    The fall of urban violence since the 1990s was a public health breakthrough, as NYU sociologist Patrick Sharkey says in his book Uneasy Peace. But we must go further.

  5. A photo of U.S. senators and 2020 Democratic Party hopefuls Cory Booker and Kamala Harris
    Equity

    Cory Booker and Kamala Harris Want a Monthly IRS Tax Credit for Rent

    The 2020 Democratic Party hopefuls are both planning bills that would create a tax credit for housing rental assistance every month. How would that work?