Time Out Singapore: Nguan

A new exhibition series at Sculpture Square features work on display for 24 hours a day. Local shutterbug Nguan tells Gwen Pew more about the stories behind his series of shots.

When local photographer Nguan was approached by Sculpture Square’s new curator Alan Oei to spend a few afternoons shooting the area around the gallery’s premises, he took on the project without hesitation.

Nguan: 'He is an albino so he appears to have some difficulty fully opening his eyes in the light.' Image courtesy of the artist.

Waterloo Street
‘This picture was captured on Waterloo Street. I’ve seen this gentleman all over town and this is the second photograph I’ve taken of him. He is an albino so he appears to have some difficulty fully opening his eyes in the light. He usually wears this same expression, and I can never tell if he is grimacing or smiling at some private and amazing joke. I prefer to think that it is the latter.’

Nguan - Bugis Junction

Bugis Junction
‘I’m inspired by some of Aristide Maillol’s sculptures and drawn to subjects in awkward or unlikely poses. In my opinion, this gentleman attains a kind of heroism by proudly remaining upright in a somewhat different way. I was captivated by his stillness in contrast to the rush of the crowd behind him. He stood this way for a really long time. I made about eight pictures of him, then I went into Toast Box for a teh-o peng; and when I came out, he was still holding that pose!’

Nguan - Kwan Im Temple

Kwan Im Temple
‘This image was taken at Kwan Im Temple. There have been countless pictures taken at this temple; it seems to be a rite of passage for Singaporean photographers to shoot here. I had avoided it in the past, simply because I didn’t think I had much to add to the conversation, but when Sculpture Square asked me to make pictures in their vicinity, I decided it was the right time to walk along a path that so many others have tread. I don’t think this image manages to say anything new or surprising, but I like the colours and the sense of visual balance, and I’m happy for it to serve as my contribution to a well-established canon.’

Nguan - Albert Street

Albert Street
‘This picture was taken at one of the stalls along Albert Street. It’s my favourite image out of the four. In all my successful photographs, a transformation of the real world takes place, either through serendipity or design. Here, the languid figure of the bored shop lady acquires a somewhat sexual energy upon closer scrutiny. I did not request permission to make this or any of the other pictures in the show, but my intention is usually to portray my subjects in an iconic or legendary light… even though they may not be able to immediately appreciate my efforts!’

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