Ren Hung - photo via ostlicht

Ren Hang

China 1987 - 2017


Ren Hang
Ren Hang
February 24, 2017
Nina Karaicic is a journalist with experience in TV and radio media. Born in 1989, she had studied at the University of Belgrade – Faculty of Political Sciences (Journalism). Interests: Photography, Art, Film, Folklore, Video Games

The representation of the human body was the guide line of the photographic work of Ren Hang realized in completely unpretentious manner. The peculiar and purified aesthetic is fulfilled with decadent vigor and almost Dionysian sensibility. Hang’s works are often considered to be highly controversial due to display of naked bodies, in combination with plants or animals, in erotically explicit poses which was in accordance with the artist’s critical agenda. The employment of radically queer and gender issues is considerable in the art practice of Ren Hang, though the artist himself was not interested in creating neither politically or socially engaged works.

taschen published a monograph of the chinese photographer and his new works should been exhibited in gallery
Ren Hang – Untitled, 2013

Struggling To Become An Artist

Ren Hang was born in 1987 in Chang Chun, Jilin province in Northeastern China. Although was rather affectionate to his hometown, in late teens he left for Beijing to study advertising. Hang was a self-taught photographer, who bought a point-and-shoot camera and began producing nude images of his friends during the studies around 2008. Since then, Hang was arrested several times for his explicit photographs and experienced censorship throughout his career in his home country of China. Thanks to the social networks his work became widely appreciated and Hang gained solo exhibitions from Antwerp, over Copenhagen, to New York.

Hang’s photographs were sometimes eerie and mysterious

On Hang’s wem page you can find email news and gallery with fashion photos ”
Ren Hang – Untitled, 2014,

Challenging Conventional Codes of Morality

Ren Hang belonged to the new generation of Chinese artists riding the wave of modernization and cultural reawakening in China. As it was mentioned, the artist was subjected to being publicly condemned for producing immoral contents. Deliberately provocative, Ren Hang’s images challenge conventional codes of morality in a still highly conservative society. Interestingly, pornographic images have been banned in the People’s Republic of China since 1949. Therefore, on the times his photographs were shown to the public, it wasn’t unusual for those works to be defaced at exhibitions or confiscated by officials, as well as his websites were often mysteriously taken offline.

The nudes were rude and immoral in the homeland of Ren Hang

All images are courtesy of the artist an show the brave new world of today
Ren Hang – Untitled, 2014

The Poet And Photographer

Simultaneously with photography, Ren was creating poetry. The two disciplines were profoundly connected and reflected the artists inner and most intimate processes. Apparently, the artist suffered from depression which he documented well by the series of poems titled My Depression. The peculiar approach to creative process was embedded in constructing the new poetics and visual discourse of the freed body regardless of any traditional codes of sacred morality. The photographs of Ren Hang seem to be an extension of poems, so by carefully selecting locations, arranging the figures and accentuating their intimate parts, Hang dared to speak of a different state of body and mind. The artist’s peculiar aesthetic can be related to the works of photographer Ryan McGinley.

The representations of new generation freed from conventions

All The major Chinese news transferred the sad information about the artist’s early death ”
Ren Hang – Untitled, 2015

Athens Love

Hang was very focused on preparing and editing photo books were he carefully gathered the thematical photographic series. Less than a year ago, the artist has published the one titled Athens Love. Once again his affinity with nature and the nude was expressed but, instead in China, now in Greece. Namely, his friends were photographed on the beach, woods, cliffs, swamped by daffodils or amongst cactus and aloe vera plants. Ren Hang used slightly different agenda in order of achieving more subtle context of leisure and relaxation.

Meticulously composed pictures, fulfilled with various references and meanings

The news of his exhibition from 2015 and 2016 were spread really quickly and new commissions arrived
Ren Hang – Untitled, 2016

The Notable Images of Ren Hang

Despite the censorship and numerous issues in regards to public display, Hang’s images have been exhibited widely; with several solo shows in China and appearances in numerous group shows internationally in countries including Italy, France, Russia, United Kingdom, Austria, Israel and Sweden. The artist’s work has appeared in leading independent magazines in China and around the world; also he published seven monographs including New Love and Republic. Taschen recently published a retrospective photo book of his work, so basically it was the first time an established, international publishing company had published his work. Unfortunately, the artist has passed away recently at quite young age of 29. He was in the process of working on a solo exhibition at Foam, Amsterdam at the time of his death. The peculiar, eroticized and well-thought works of Ren Hang reflect his utmost search for the brave new world and are a really good example of how an art work, despite being aesthetically compelling, still can be subversive and socially/politically charged at the same time.

Ren Hang died on February 24th, 2017, in Hong Kong.

Featured image: Portrait of Ren Hung – photo via Ostlicht
All images used are courtesy of the artist

Year Exhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2017Naked / NudeFoam Photography Museum, AmsterdamSolo
2017HUMAN LOVEFotografiska museum, StockholmSolo
2016Athens LoveKlein Sun Gallery, New YorkSolo
2015NEW LOVEmatchbaco Gallery, TokyoSolo
2015MORPHOLOGYHDM Gallery, Hangzhou, ChinaSolo
2015Occupy Atopos #Ren HangAtopos cvc, AthensSolo
2015 Ren Hang Atelier 72 Gallery, MarseilleSolo
2015In Presence of REN HANG Stieglitz 19 Gallery, AntwerpSolo
2015Ren Hang 2014 Capricious 88 Gallery, New YorkSolo
2015ART PARIS ART FAIR Nicolas Hugo Gallery, PariSolo
2015 My MomBlindspot Gallery, Hong KongSolo
2015From Old GroundBathurst Regional Art Gallery, Bathurst, AustraliaGroup
2015Medium of Desire: An International Anthology of Photography and VideoLeslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New YorkGroup
2015UntitledCONTEMPORARY ISTANBUL, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2015CHINESE PHOTOGRAPHY: TWENTIETH CENTURY AND BEFOREThree shadows photography art centre, BeijingGroup
2015Yesterday We Wanted To Be The SkyKamarade Gallery, Stockholm, SwedenGroup
2014ANATOMY OF THE IMAGE104 Kléber Gallery Paris FanceSolo
2014Ren HangNicolas Hugo Gallery Paris Solo
2014HIDESoy Sauce Factory Bangkok ThailandSolo
2014 PHYSICAL BORDERLINE Three shadows +3 gallery Beijing ChinaSolo
2014 IN ADDITION TO SLEEP Copenhagen Photo FestivalCopenhagen Denmark Solo
2014 May IN ADDITION TO SLEEP Vasli Souza gallery Malmo Sweden Solo
2014LA CHINE A NUE NUE gallery Paris Pantin France Solo
2014Umbria World Fest Palazzo Trinci Foligno Italy Group
2014 CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY IN CHINA 2009-2014 Minsheng art museum Shanghai ChinaGroup
2014 NEW FRONTIERS in contemporary photography Tryffel Grisen Gallery Stockholm SwedenGroup
2014 PHOTOLGGENDO Via Del Commercio 13 Rome ItalyGroup
2014 ARTVILNIUS '14 International Contemporary Art Fair Congress center in Vilnius Lithuania Group
2014 THREE SHADOWS FRIST EXPERIMENTAL IMAGE OPEN EXHIBITION Three shadows photography art centre Beijing ChinaGroup
2014 NEW PHOTOS SINCE 2009Wuhan Art Museum Wuhan ChinaGroup
2014 Art brussels stieglitz19 BelgiumGroup
2014FACELESS Stichting Mediamatic Amsterdam NetherlandsGroup
2013[Pulse] Galerie Jane Zhang Frankfurt Germany Solo
2014 Chinese spring, stieglitz19 BelgiumGroup
2013Lian Zhou Foto 2013 -Curatorial Theme: Farewell to Experience Lian Zhou ChinaGroup
2013The 2nd Conceptual Film Photography Show F518 Idea Land Shenzhen ChinaGroup
2013 True Panic- Photography Exhibition Bowl Island Gallery Beijing ChinaGroup
2013 Photo Off, 4th EditionLa Bellevilloise Paris FranceGroup
20131st BEIJING PHOTO BIENNIAL: Aura and Post Aura China Millennium Monument Beijing China Group
2013 [ENTER] Network real-time exhibition Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai Shanghai ChinaGroup
2013 Unseen Photo Fair Amsterdam NetherlandsGroup
2013 FACELESS part 1 Museums Quartier Vienna AustriaGroup
2013ATYPICAL Beijing Space Beijing ChinaGroup
2013 As the resident artist by invitation of Vienna Museums QuartierGroup
2013 [Fuck Off 2] Chinese Contemporary Art DocumentGroninger Museum NetherlandsGroup
2012EQUAL RELATIONSHIPS Bilndspot Gallery HongKong ChinaGroup
2013FUCK TABOO Camera16 Gallery Milan ItalyGroup
2013 A Miscellany of Arts---The Visual Rhetoric of the Young Generation Suzhou ChinaGroup
2013REMOTE OLACES,CLOSE SPACES Street Level Photoworks Gallery Scotland UKGroup
2012 Secret Love Oriental Museum in Stockholm Stockholm SwedenGroup
2012 Memory Lost and Found Beijing Space Beijing ChinaGroup
2012Central Academy of Fine Arts First CAFAM future development CAFA Art Museum in Beijing ChinaGroup
2012 [Originate from energy resource] Multimedia Art Museum Moscow , Moscow RussiaGroup
2012 [Symptoms] Iberia Center for Contemporary Art Beijing ChinaGroup
2011 [Stillbirth] YUGONG YISHAN live house Beijing China Solo
2011 [ALLERGY] Kubrick Beijing China Solo
2011 FéROCES international photography festival 2011 FranceGroup
2011 [restaurant] Light Room photography exhibition Gallery Shanghai ChinaGroup
2011[Sour sweet bitter spicy] Arles FranceGroup
2011 Rencontres d'Arles festival Arles FranceGroup
2011 [recurrent shadows] Shenzhen ChinaGroup
2011 [ Young Movement] IseaelGroup
2011 [the fourth 54 international young art festival 2011] 798 art area Beijing ChinaGroup
2011 [three shadows photography award] three shadows photography art centre Beijing ChinaGroup
2011 Curated by Rong Rong –Qiu&Ren Hang INNER EAR UCCA Beijing ChinaGroup
2010[INTERCOURSE WITH BEIJING] Ren Hang photography exhibition YUGONG YISHAN live house Beijing China Solo
2010[ Eat Naked Lunch!] RenHang photography exhibition YUYINTANG live house Shanghai China Solo
2010The third TERNA comtemporary art exhibition Rome Milan ItalyGroup
2010 [WARMTH] 2010 -2011 new year art exhibition Shanghai ChinaGroup
2010 [new photography magazine photography exhibition ] group exhibition Hong Kong ChinaGroup
2010 798 festival young [THIS THIS IS ME] with attitude photography exhibition Beijing ChinaGroup
2010 [INTO THE MOOD] art exhibition Hong Kong ChinaGroup
2010 CHINA CAOCHANGDI photography TORATORATORA photography exhibition CAOCHANGDI Beijing ChinaGroup
2010 [experiment] 2010 SCREENAGE art document exhibition SONG ZHUANG Art Museum Beijing ChinaGroup
2009 80’s and Peaceful Evolution visual group exhibition Hong Kong ChinaGroup
2009 [femininity. Photography] international photography exhibition ‘paradise with love’feminity theme photography exhibition Nanjing ChinaGroup
2009 [private talk] photography exhibition Shanghai ChinaGroup
2009 [GENDER DIVISITY] art exhibition SONG ZHUANG Art Area Beijing ChinaGroup
2009 [GENDER DIVISITY] art exhibition SONG ZHUANG Art Area Beijing ChinaGroup