Ren Hang’s death, a month before his 30th birthday, has come as a shock to fans of his work
Born in 1987 in Jilin, China, the artist is known for his provocative photography, which more often than not featured stark, sexually suggestive portrayals of young people in visually discomforting positions and situations, such as a man licking his own armpit, seen on the cover of the artist’s new self-titled book published by Taschen, or a python wrapped around a woman’s head.
His solo exhibition, “Human Love” has just opened on February 17 at the Fotografiska Museum in Stockholm, and will be on view until 2 April. Another solo exhibition “Naked/Nude” opened in late January at the Foam Photography Museum in Amsterdam, and will be on show until 12 March.
Art Republik spoke with gallerist Dries Roelens, who met Ren when he was just beginning his career. He has exhibited the artist’s works in multiple shows at his gallery Stieglitz19 in Berlin, such as “Ren Hang: New Works” in March 2015, the group show “The New Portrait” in June and July 2015, and more recently in “The New Portrait Party” in June 2016.
Roelens says, “He had severe depression, and started writing poetry and making pictures of his friends, with his small camera… quick shots, in backyards, at night, where he could not be seen, since all his pictures are nudes. He did not think much of it, found it very natural, and could not comprehend how shocking it was for other people. He became famous through internet, with small shows all over the world, and did not want to work with big galleries. He was cheated many times, with people taking advantage of him. He was too good.”
Heart Media mourns the loss of a bright and creative talent, who worked on projects with numerous magazines all over the world. One of the last is with L’Officiel Malaysia, whose March 2017 cover was shot by the artist. In honour of this collaboration, L’Officiel Malaysia will be extending 10,000 copies of the March issue to meet the overwhelming demand from readers. Art Republik will also publish a special story of Ren Hang and his oeuvre in its Mar-May “Crossover” issue.