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Art Photobook Reviews

At a glance - Wild by Ren Hang

As some of you will know, I post a book daily on Instagram. However, my frustration at the unpredictability of its algorithm has me fuming from time to time.

So I have decided to occasionally include a few posts (both rejected or otherwise) here as well.

I attempted to post Wild by Ren Hang today.

It was deleted immediately and the account threatened with closure.

This is what upset them.

By 2015 I had pretty much decided I was Ren Hang’d out.....for a while at least.

Initially having been alerted to his existence by the wonderful “Republic” from Editions du Lic, which was his first release outside of China, I had quickly managed to get hold of a couple of those “early” Chinese self published titles.

At that point the quantity of work that quickly started to appear, combined with its repetitive nature meant that I had decided to pause a while. However just as I had made this decision some fabulous examples of design and edit began to emerge, which not only rekindled my interest, but made me reach for the “buy” button once more.

German independent Dienacht probably knew that they had to do something special to showcase their Ren Hang offering, but whether they would have guessed that Wild - which was published in conjunction with Ostlicht Gallery, Vienna to coincide with his exhibition of the same name - was going to end up being one of the most coveted of the artist’s books would have been unlikely.

“Wild” is a large format unbound series of colour rich images - a poster book - simply folded and contained in a printed obi-band.

It’s contents are vintage Hang, but of a scale and quality that really allows each of the photographs to be opened up and gives them a rare opportunity to breath.

Two years later it was all over.

Ren Hang -who was a known depressive- took his own life at the age of only twenty nine.

What delights this prolific and incendiary talent would have gone on to perform will never be known,

To some merely a purveyor of provocative and kinky nudes, it is also worth remembering that at home in China this was illegal and transgressive work, for which he was arrested and persecuted on more than one occasion.

An audacious, bear baiting and overtly political voice who was constantly at war with the most dangerous demons of all...his own.

Ren Hang RIP

1 則留言


Great review, Robin. And love how the photos are integrated. Excellent!

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