“My pictures discuss survival,” Ren Hang once said of his photography. Taking into account his sudden death which shook the art world on Friday, these words sound particularly touching. The world acclaimed artist committed a suicide just a month before turning 30. He struggled with depression and documented his battles at his website, turning his thoughts into a journal and poems. His photographic works are also poetic without a doubt. Let’s have a closer look at his daring and provocative work that reflected many of the social and political issues in his native China.
Over the years, Ren Hang honest vision of the China’s younger generation has gained fans around the globe. His photos explore the eroticism and gender-identity and are often explicit and contain a lot of nudity. Due to this fact the Chinese government, where pornographic imagery had been forbidden since 1949, did not appreciate his works and banned Hang’s exhibitions numerous times. Despite the controversy and even arrests, the artist was still willing to live and work in China. “The censorship makes me want to stay even more. Not being able to do what you want in your own country is such a tragic way to live.” he said. However, Ren Hang denied any political or social basis for his photography. But despite his own words, his oeuvre served as a kind of mirror for the current situation and prejudices in Chinese society, where nudity and corporeality are silenced as something shameful, rather than freeing and natural.
Such a brilliant, honest and eclectic vision, a true contemporary visual poet, Ren Hang will be forever missed. Let’s follow his advice and spent more time with friends and family, though we might not know what are they going through and human affection and kindness may be just the remedy everyone needs in our crazy never stopping world.