Mark Byrnes is a former senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
“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.”