Nguan (Singapore)

14 – 25 January 2015, 10am – 10pm

ION Art, #04-01

ION Orchard


Biography of Artist


—Fringe Highlight

—Fringe Commission

—World Premiere

How Loneliness Goes is about those of us who abide in the city.


The photographs in the series employ Singapore’s distinct vernacular architecture as both scenery and supporting cast for a lyrical and ambivalent evocation of urban isolation.


Whether depicted as being on their own or in the middle of a teeming crowd, the protagonists in the images appear detached and bereft—a part of the living, yet oddly apart from it.


The work functions as an allegory for the impossibility of connection in modern life. The pictures also affirm the tenuous margins that divide maturity or worldliness from a sort of brokenness, and melancholy from a kind of peace.

“Nguan's How Loneliness Goes is a masterful colour portrait of quiet urban lives in one of the world's densest cities.”

- John Mahoney, American Photo


“His coolly detached and melancholic portraits of strangers in the city, as well as his urban landscapes, have earned him a cult following and a reputation as a photographer's photographer.”

- Adeline Chia, Blouin Art Info


“There’s something about Nguan’s photographs that keeps you looking. Maybe it’s the cinematic quality of their global cityscapes, awash in light. Or perhaps it’s the pensive gazes of his subjects that make you stare back.”

-    Justin Zhuang, POSKOD.SG


“Nguan’s Singapore sees him capture the hazy atmosphere of the place he grew up in, with its seas of pastel apartment blocks and dreamlike landscapes interjected with children and adults caught in moments of reflection… The result is a series which is as enchanting as it is uncanny in its paralysis and tranquility.”

-    Maisie Skidmore, It’s Nice That

Nguan’s photographs contemplate life and longing in the world’s biggest cities.


A mood of void and loss is pervasive in How Loneliness Goes.


The individuals in the series can be perceived as being in mourning—for lost youth, lost companionship or lost love. The vacant landscapes seem as though they are populated by ghosts.


Yet, the work is as much about how loneliness goes away (i.e. the loss of loneliness): via a searching curiosity about the world, and the solace that the habit and process of art can provide.