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3 March 2017
Chinese photographer Ren Hang died on Feb. 24 in Beijing at the age of 29. Newspaper reports said Ren, who suffered from depression, had jumped off the 28th floor of a building.
Born in 1987 in a suburb of Changchun in northeastern China, Ren had a normal childhood, "maybe too normal," he once said. His father worked for the railroad and his mother at a printing plant.
His mother modeled for him in a series he titled "My Mum." His friends also modeled for him. Almost always in the nude.
He began taking nude photos with point-and-shoot film cameras when he moved to Beijing at the age of 17. He lived with three other roommates in a cramped door room, studying advertising. "I would frequently see my roommates in the nude," he said, so it was inevitable his photography would go there.
'I just do what I do.'
In 2009 he began exhibiting his work, which included more than 20 solo and 70 group shows, and publishing photo books, now collector's items, which established his international reputation for the sexually explicit nature of his work, which some considered subversive.
But not Ren. He didn't think much about culture or politics, he once admitted. "I just do what I do."
What he did was pose his nude subjects in unusual but very constrained compositions. "He makes the work in a context that isn't free and open," Mirjam Kooiman, a curator at Amsterdam photography museum Foam, observed. "It is telling us something about not only him as an artist but also the generation he's from."
His fame had recently won him commissions to shoot for Gucci, GQ and leading fashion magazines.
In addition to his own Web Site, his images can be seen on his Flickr feed and Instagram feed. Jamie Clifton of Vice interviewed Ren in 2013 in The Art of Taboo -- Ren Hang, which also includes a few images.