Ren Hang — Nudes
Ren Hang is known above all for his research on the body, identity, sexuality and the relationship between humans and nature, with new generation, free and rebellious Chinese youths as the protagonists. For the most part nude, his subjects appear on a roof among the skyscrapers of Beijing, in a forest of tall trees, in a pond with lotus flowers, in a bathtub among swimming goldfish or in a bare room, their faces unmoved and their limbs bent into unnatural poses. Swans, peacocks, snakes, cherries, apples, flowers and plants are used as absurd props but ones that have great evocative power. Although often provocatively explicit in the display of sexual organs and the poses, which at times refer to sadomasochism and fetishism, Ren Hang's images are difficult to define, shocking and at the same time pure, permeated by a sense of mystery and formal elegance that appears poetic and, in some ways, melancholic. The bodies of the models - which are all similar to each other, slender, hairless, and with very pale skin and black hair, red lipstick and painted nails for the women - are transformed into sculptural forms where gender is not important. Rather than arousing desire, these images seem to want to break the taboos surrounding the naked body, challenging the moral tradition that still governs Chinese society. In China, in fact, the concept of the nude cannot be separated from pornography, and the nude as a genre is not recognised in art history. This is why Ren Hang’s photographs were often censored. “We were born nude…I just photographed things in their more natural conditions” (Ren Hang).