Banned Chinese Photographer Captures Playful Nudes in Nature
Ren Hang’s 'Athens Love' features the Grecian countryside and tasteful nudity.
This article contains adult content.
All images courtesy of Klein Sun Gallery
Ren Hang’s photographs may be banned in China, but nobody had an issue at the New York opening of his latest series, Athens Love, at Klein Sun Gallery, but that’s probably because the colorful photos, taken during a residency in Greece, beautifully capture Hang’s crew of beautiful friends stripping bare in and around beautiful Athens.
Some of Hang’s images are surreal in their saturated colors, scenic compositions, and sudden intrusions of the human form in some dangerous-looking places like lying between two giant boulders, or in the middle of the road. The artist insists he doesn’t want his pictures to easily reveal the locations where they were shot, and that sense of non-place is expressed in monochrome blue expanses of water and sky, or a close-up of tree trunks scattered with flowers.
Photographing nude bodies in nature, Hang captures his subjects as if they were part of the earthly elements with which they mingle. It is comical and cringe-inducing at times, like the close-up of someone peeing onto cacti (below), but always natural.
One natural shot was apparently too provocative for the show (maybe the US isn’t that much more liberal than China), but it was perhaps the most memorable, if you can, get a glimpse of it in the exhibition catalog: the recurring, lanky, long-haired woman, legs spread, thighs smeared with menstrual blood.
Luckily for those made squeamish by bodies and bodily fluids, another exhibition opened in the back rooms of Klein Sun the same night. Lam Tung-Pang’s I Was Once Here is inspired by the Hong Kong-based artist’s experiences in New York, where he once spent several months visiting art museums and galleries for four hours every morning.
It feels very meta, standing in a room, bathing in projections of cracking oil paintings, and then walking into another room to see a video of museum visitors looking at, and passing by, a version of Edward Munch’s The Scream.