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. photo: A woman crosses an overpass above the 101 freeway in Los Angeles, California.
    Transportation

    Navigation Apps Changed the Politics of Traffic

    In an excerpt from the new book The Future of Transportation, CityLab’s Laura Bliss adds up the “price of anarchy” when it comes to traffic navigation apps.

  2. Three men wearing suits raise shovels full of dirt in front of an American flag.
    Equity

    How Cities and States Can Stop the Incentive Madness

    Economist Timothy Bartik explains why the public costs of tax incentives often outweigh the benefits, and describes a model business-incentive package.

  3. A view of a Harlem corner.
    Equity

    How Ronald Reagan Halted the Early Anti-Gentrification Movement

    An excerpt from Newcomers, a new book by Matthew L. Schuerman, documents the early history of the anti-gentrification and back-to-the-city movements.

  4. Design

    Reviving the Utopian Urban Dreams of Tony Garnier

    While little known outside of France, architect and city planner Tony Garnier (1869-1948) is as closely associated with Lyon as Antoni Gaudí is with Barcelona.

  5. photo: Helsinki's national library
    Design

    How Helsinki Built ‘Book Heaven’

    Finland’s most ambitious library has a lofty mission, says Helsinki’s Tommi Laitio: It’s a kind of monument to the Nordic model of civic engagement.

×