Ren Hang, one of the most radical and celebrated photographers of his generation in China, has passed away at the age of 29.
Championed around the world for his colourful, unapologetically explicit photography, the young photographer endured constant censorship and intimidation from the Chinese government throughout his career. His work was heralded by Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei, who has also experienced oppression as a result of the politically outspoken nature of much of his art.
In contrast to Ai Wei Wei, Ren Hang drew negative attention due to the provocative bent of his work, repeatedly being denied the opportunity to show in his home country. But what that gave him was a more powerful global stage. There are two major solo exhibitions of Hang’s work on view in Europe: Human Love at the Fotografiska Museum in Stockholm and Naked/Nude at Foam Photography Museum in Amsterdam.
His raw depictions of youth, relationships and sexuality often drew comparisons to Ryan McGinley, and Nobuyoshi Araki – who Hang photographed in Tokyo for HEROINE in 2015. Placing groups of nude men and women against stark, brightly lit backgrounds; intertwining limbs with plant and animal life (sometimes dead, sometimes alive), Hang framed the raw beauty of the human body with an unexpected – and powerful – kind of poetry. May he rest in peace.
More of Ren Hang’s work can be seen at his website, here.