Ren Hang was found dead last week after having committed suicide, according to Chinese media. A poet, as well as a photographer, he wrote at length about depression on his website, renhang.org.
Over the years, he has been arrested several times; at the time of his death he was reportedly still feuding with the Chinese government. He was mentored by controversial artist Ai Weiwei and, because of the erotic nature of his photography, his work was banned in China, where pornography is illegal. His work, which featured his friends and fans, was frequently confiscated or defaced by officials.
Two solo exhibitions of Hang’s work are currently on show in Europe. These are Naked/Nude at the Foam Photography Museum in Amsterdam, and Human Love at the Fotografiska Museum in Stockholm.
Also this weekend during Paris Fashion Week, an unseen exhibition of his work will go on show at Parisian gallery Boon Space. Titled ‘TOTEM COLLECTIVE x REN HANG | BAO Showcase’, the show will take place on 5 March from 3–8pm at Boon Space, located at 9 bis Rue de Lesdiguières.
The show is a series of pictures from a collaboration between Hang and Totem Collective, a leather-bag manufacturing start-up founded by four young men of different nationalities. The photos were taken to mark the launch of the brand at Paris Fashion Week and show naked models posing with black-leather totes.
A spokesperson for Totem Collective said: “For the launch, we collaborated with Ren Hang, one of the most talked-about Chinese photographers out there today and also a good friend of the brand. We took a trip to the city of Beijing, where Ren Hang is based, got naked and had some fun with the dazzling kids of the city.”
Totem Collective produced a book out of the images and called it BAO, which in Chinese can mean bag, baby, treasure, embrace or explosion, depending on the intonation.
A spokesperson for Boon said: “As a humble tribute to his legacy, and to share his vision and unique sense of beauty to even more places in the world, Boon Paris pays tribute to [Ren Hang] in the most respectful yet fun way, as he would have never wanted a serious church memorial.”