Athens Love by Ren Hang
About the artist
Ren Hang (b. 1987, d. 2017) was a Chinese photographer and poet. During Ren’s incipient career, he was known mostly for nude photographic portraits of his friends.
The second monograph by Ren Hang, one of China’s most distinguished and controversial emerging photographers. Athens Love presents Hang’s works taken in Greece in April 2015 during his participation in the Occupy Atopos artist residency and exhibition curated by Vassilis Zidianakis. Athens Love is published on the occasion of the exhibition with the same title at Klein Sun Gallery in New York from March 24 to April 30, 2016.
Hang’s work in Athens Love includes casual snapshots taken of friends in various locations in Athens and Attica, Greece, such as the beach, woods, cliffs, streets, and apartments. Expressing his awe of the dynamics in nature, Hang responds to it in high spirits, his sense of humor reflecting in the composition and colors of his work. Away from his more politically strict and constraining home in China, Hang enjoys the more relaxed and playful energy in his photographs, and renders his abundant creativity in new avenues of expression. As a result, both the diaristic pictures and the stylized nudes in Athens Love are imbued with an undeniable sense of discovery and joy, and thrillingly document one of contemporary photography’s most exciting young artists taking bold advantage of the new and unfamiliar.
Hang’s work is significant for its representation of Chinese sexuality within a heavily censored society. For these erotic undertones, he was arrested by PRC authorities several times. He received the backing of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who included Ren in his 2013 Netherlands show, Fuck Off 2 The Sequel, and curated the photographer’s 2014 exhibition in Paris, France. Ren’s erotic, playful and casual yet provocative expression gained him worldwide fame.