Last Updated July 13, 2018

Ren Hang

Chinese (Born 1987 - Died 2017 ) PREMIUM LISTING Featured
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Ren Hang was a Chinese photographer and poet, internationally known for his provocative, explicit and often erotic images. Ren's work has been compared to that of Ryan McGinley and Nan Goldin.

Born in Changchun in north-east Jilin province, in China, he first picked up a camera whilst studying advertising at college to 'relieve boredom' from his studies. A self-taught photographer, most of Ren's images were captured on a point-and-shoot camera.

His work often featured nudes models – many of whom were from his close circle of friends, and he posed them in abstract and sometimes erotic positions. His sexually charged images caused controversy in China. His images have been reported to the authorities by members of the public, some of his exhibitions were targeted by demonstrators with images defaced, others forcibly cancelled. His website and social media accounts were taken offline by officials and his work saw him arrested by the Chinese authorities on several occasions for violating China's conservative obscenity laws.

Despite the controversy Ren always maintained that nudity and sexuality were natural themes for him to explore: "Nudes are there since always. We were born nude. So talking about revolution, I don't think there's anything to revolutionize. Unless people are born with clothes on, and I want to take their clothes off, then I think this is a revolution. If it was already like that, then it's not a revolution. I just photographed things on their more natural conditions."

Not all of his work was explicit. 'My Mum', one of his most famous bodies of work, featured a series of (fully-clothed) portraits of his mother, often posing with unusual props, animals or plants.

During his 10 years producing art he self-published seven monographs and exhibited extensively throughout China and worldwide. In 2017 German publisher Taschen published a retrospective of his work.

Ren Hang was commissioned by fashion brands Gucci, Rick Owens, and Loewe, and his work has appeared in international magazines including L'Officiel, GQ Style, and Vice.

A sufferer of depression, Ren Hang committed suicide in February 2017.