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The Darker Reason Behind Nguan’s Yearning Photographic Vision

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Singaporean photographer Nguan first began photographing people, places and cities as a way to grapple with the emotional aftermath of the 9/11 events in America. He intricately photographs the subtleties of human despair; contrasted against soft pastel hues.

The distinguished photographer who is based in New York is known for his imagery which romanticizes “big city yearning, ordinary fantasies and emotional globalization”. Much of Nguan’s imagery focuses on moments and situations drenched in Golden Hour light—and, despite the consistent pastel hues, features an undercurrent of forlornness. Nguan, who we’ve featured previously on iGNANT, explained in an interview that the catalyst for his photography began somberly after 9/11 happened, and instilled in him a sense of impermanence that he carries with him to this day. “The Twin Towers were so monumental and seemed as permanent as mountains–like many, I looked for them to orientate myself in the city”, he explains. To see them gone so suddenly altered the photographer enduringly. “Any fictions I could construct now seemed frivolous”, he continues. “Instead I felt this urgent need to somehow fight the fleeting, to plug the hole through which time was leaking, and I began to photograph obsessively. Over the years my motivations have varied, but to this day I work with the assumption that everything in front of my camera will no longer be there in the morning”.

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All images © Nguan