Places Remembered

T Singapore: The New York Times Style Magazine|January 2020

Places Remembered
One Singaporean artist is taking it slow to memorialise the island city’s oft-forgotten sights into poignant digital portraits.
Sng Ler Jun

When it comes to his digital masterpieces, Singaporean artist Jonathan Yong-Ern Lim isn’t too fond of the adjective “nostalgic”. “[Nostalgia] is probably the most common word that people use to describe my paintings,” he says. “I think it’s nice to remember the past fondly, but my works have always been painted with the present in mind. I don’t think you can feel nostalgic for the present.”

And so, in the spirit of immortalising the present, the 28-year-old Lim chronicles unassuming sights of the city into visceral digitalised paintings, which are posted onto his Instagram account (@whereartjon). There, he documents often neglected observations of Singapore in earnest, juxtaposing vibrant colours against a seemingly dreary backdrop.

In “Time’s Arrow” (2017), two middle-aged men “face off” with each other in a game of chess over kopi (the colloquial term for ‘coffee’) at a void deck (the communal space on the ground floor of a block of public housing’); in another, a solitary figure sits on a park bench by a canal along Ubi Avenue with his head hung low and his gaze fixed on his phone on a quiet evening.

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January 2020