Ren Hang (1987- 2017) born in Jilin, China.
We are incredibly saddened to hear the loss of one of the world’s most controversial contemporary photographers. Ren Hang passed away this week only aged 29, not long before his 30th birthday.
Ren composed striking visuals posing pale naked bodies with minimal backgrounds. Whilst some had a more natural look, others embraced eroticism with male gentitals sandwiched between disco balls and sculptural body positions leaving nothing to the imagination.
He was a self-taught photographer, who began by shooting nude photographs of his friends as a cure to boredom during college. Little did he know then that his work was soon to develop into a uniquely expressive erotic style, and he became known as one of China’s most popular radical artists.
"Well, people come into this world naked and I consider naked bodies to be people's original, authentic look. So I feel the real existence of people through their naked bodies.” - Interview with Vice Japan 2013.
Ren Hang’s work became the subject of many international group exhibitions, including "Medium of Desire: An International Anthology of Photography and Video," Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York, NY (2015-2016); "FACELESS," Stichting Mediamatic, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2014); "Fuck Off 2 Chinese Contemporary Art Document," Groninger Museum, Netherlands (2013).
Photography from RenHang.org.
Although his work was worldly appreciated he never gained the recognition he deserved in his home country. Ren Hang was arrested in China multiple times for his sexually explicit photography. His website has been previously pulled offline, and his work has been defaced at exhibitions and confiscated by officials. Although asserting his work wasn’t political, his eroticism appeared to many as a middle finger protest to Chinese repression.
"I'm doing this because I still get a feeling of novelty from it,” he told CNN in an interview published last week. "And it fills the emptiness of my heart."
Ren suffered with depression throughout his life, an experience he shared with his followers through poetry and blog entries in a section titled My Depression on his official website.
An entry from 18.07.2016 put through Google translate:
“…. see anything like a weapon, the leaves of the leaves like a blade covered with branches, the fork on the table like Darts, cola like grenades, I dare not eat, do not dare to drink water I sat in the chair, the chair seemed to be broken, and I lay on the couch, and the sofa seemed to collapse. I want to leave, but every step is like a cliff, every step is as difficult as the abyss.”
Ren Hang was in the process of working on a major solo exhibition at Foam, Amsterdam, after receiving the Outset Exhibition Fund at Unseen
Photography Festival last September.
"Today we mourn the loss of Ren Hang, a talented and rising young photographer who passed away well before his time," gallery owner Eli Klein wrote on Instagram Friday morning. "@kleinsungallery was honored to host his solo exhibition last year and send our heartfelt condolences to all of his loved ones.”