“LOVE, Ren Hang”, the first ever institutional exhibition in France of the work of the photographer Ren Hang, honours the memory of one of the most influential Chinese artists of his generation, who died tragically at the age of 29.
Ren Hang’s work has been exhibited in many galleries around the world and regularly published in fashion magazines including Purple and Numero. After his suicide in 2017, he left behind a wide-ranging body of work that is presented in the exhibition “LOVE, REN HANG”, which deals with all aspects of his artistic practice, from photography to books and self-published texts. Presented for the first time in a French institution – in Paris, a city he loved – 150 photographs selected by the MEP from European and Chinese collections allow us to assess the scope of his outstanding corpus.
Adopting a partly chromatic approach, it takes the visitor through the artist’s worlds: in one area red predominates, while elswhere other acid colours prevail; one room is devoted to his mother, while another, darker space presents his night photography. The last room features a selection of more “daring” works focusing on the body, creating a powerful, organic connection between eroticism and nature.
The show is also a chance to discover a less well-known facet of Ren Hang’s art, namely the editorial and poetic works that he produced in parallel with his photography. They are chiefly meditations on his struggle with depression. “If life is a bottomless chasm, when I jump the endless fall will also be a way of flying”, he wrote. The artist took his own life in 2017 at the age of 29.
Ren Hang was born in 1987 in Changchun, the capital of the province of Jilin in northeast China.
He boldly questioned the relationship to identity and sexuality. As a gay artist, he particularly influenced the Chinese youth and his tone was considered subversive or qualified as pornographic. Through his art, he represented, in the face of a repressive political context, the expression of a desire for creative freedom, freshness and carefreeness. His unique vision referred to the “cynical realism” (Chinese artistic movement born from the events of Tian’anmen in 1989).
His work has been exhibited in numerous galleries around the world, and was regularly published in fashion magazines such as Purple and Numero.