Provocative and direct. At the same time, aesthetic, humorous and poetic. The photographs of the Chinese artist Ren Hang (1987–2017) fascinate because of their radical imagery. OstLicht. Galerie für Fotografie presented the most comprehensive exhibition of the young shooting star in Europe to date. His sudden death is an irretrievable loss for all who knew him, as it is for the art world which loses one of its brightest and uncompromising talents.
Ren Hang’s analogue photographs are about human emotions, relationships and friendships, and also fear and loneliness. Young women and men – mostly friends of the artist – pose naked in vulnerable, occasionally explicit
poses. With their gaze often directed straight at the camera, the models always assume an active role.
In the portraits, taken in front of monochromatic backdrops, on the roof of high-rise buildings or in natural landscapes, animals such as snakes, birds or cats and flowers appear as props. In twisted poses and unusual arrangements,
bodies are an abstract element to Ren Hang. The naked human body becomes a malleable sculpture and is thus desexualised. Still, the artist’s photographs are always suffused with a subtle humour.
Living and working in Beijing, Ren Hang was influenced by Chinese culture and his immediate environment. His images also constitute a portrait of his own generation and of China’s urban youth culture, longing for individual freedom and spiritual liberty. They reflect a spontaneous lifestyle which seeks out liberty.
Ren Hang was born in Chang Chung in the Province of Jilin, China, in 1987. He worked as a photographer and poet. In 2010 he received the Third Annual Terna Prize for Contemporary Art. Ren Hang’s artistic work has been exhibited widely in China and Europe. He has published numerous photo books, most of which are already out of print. He lives and works in Beijing, China. Ren Hang died at the age of 29 in February 2017 in Beijing.