His creative and controversial legacy
This past February 24th, photography lost a unique and provocative voice, Chinese artist Ren Hang. His creative output was prolific, in spite of near-constant clinical depression. In the past six years alone, there have been 24 solo exhibitions and 76 group shows of his controversial images. By age 29, he’d self-published 16 books, and his first international monograph has just recently been published by TASCHEN Books. He accomplished this all while living in a culture that forces artists to fight for every creative freedom, no small feat given his controversial subject matter.
Ren Hang’s work is immediate, insistent, playfully erotic—instantly recognizable for its rare mix of sexual daring and stream of consciousness. In any given image, you’re as likely to see an iguana, miscellaneous fruit or a cloud of moths as an erotic look at a body part. Contemporary artist Ai Weiwei, an early and enthusiastic champion of Ren Hang’s images, describes their meaning as something uniquely Chinese: “[Ren Hang’s] works interpreted sex in a Chinese way, which contained a sense of loss and sorrow. In Chinese literature or poetry, sex is about something which is impossible. It’s very different from the West. It’s sexier.”
We’ve lost Ren Hang’s voice tragically early, but he left behind a lasting creative legacy. You can see his images above and below.
“OCTOBER”, 2016 A post shared by RenHang (@renhangrenhang) on
ANTIDOTE magazine A post shared by RenHang (@renhangrenhang) on
Shoot for BEAUTY PAPERS magazine @beautypapersmag A post shared by RenHang (@renhangrenhang) on
Numéro China magzine A post shared by RenHang (@renhangrenhang) on