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PHOTOFAIRS Shanghai 2017: Ren Hang in the Spotlight


Spotlight is an exhibition which was on view last week-end at the 2017 edition of Photofairs in Shanghai. The exhibition’s objective was to highlight an artist of international renown who is of particular relevance and importance to the contemporary photography space and market at the time of the fair. This recognition was given to the late Chinese photographer Ren Hang.

The exhibition featured the final works printed by Ren Hang. Explaining the intention of Spotlight: 19 Photos, KWM artcenter curators Tim Crowley and Yuling Zhang commented: The exhibition sets out to emphasise Ren Hang’s aesthetics rather than a socio-political stance or issues of sexuality. The origin of the exhibition comes from his last exhibition held at KWM artcenter in January 2017 entitled Beauty without Beards. The subject was about male beauty and its relation to Greek aesthetics. After his death we had the opportunity to look through his negatives very closely and begin to categorise them in certain ways such as image with one boy outside, image with two girls indoors, one boy on a roof etc. This enabled us to start to see certain patterns in his compositional choices and lighting choices. He experimented with certain compositions more than once, sometimes many times. The Photofairs exhibition attempts within the designated space to demonstrate some of these findings.”

Continuing to talk about Ren Hang’s impact on photography, Crowley and Zhang said: “We think that Ren Hang surpasses other photographers of his generation with is honesty. He worked instinctively. He felt comfortable working with nudes. It revealed everyone as human. He was the kind of person who woke up in the morning, went to the bathroom, looked in the mirror and saw meat and bones. He saw humans as animals with clothes on. This vision of humanity takes away social conventions such as race, class etc and creates a level field that anyone who is human can recognise. In short a universal humanity. Other photographers of his generation tend to be more interested in the conventions of the day or to subjects that are specific to a time and place. Although one could read Ren Hang’s work through a specifically Chinese filter, his real strength lies in a more universal appeal. We think this aspect is what will keep his work in the public consciousness for years to come.”




8-10 September 2017

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