HONG KONG – One of China’s most talented young photographers, Ren Hang, has passed away.
WWD has reached out directly to Ren Hang’s studio. The news was confirmed by several who worked with him.
According to Taschen, who published the Beijing artist’s work, the 29-year-old took his own life on Thursday.
The book publisher also posted on Instagram: “Taschen is devastated by the death of Chinese photographer Ren Hang (1987-2017), a self-taught master of surrealistic, startling, and beautiful pictures, censored in his homeland, feted across the globe, and at the pioneering forefront of a gender inclusive world.”
Eli Klein of the Klein Sun Gallery also paid tribute saying: “Today we mourn the loss of Ren Hang, a talented and rising young photographer who passed away well before his time. @kleinsungallery was honored to host his solo exhibition last year and sends our heartfelt condolences to all of his loved ones.”
The controversial young artist, who had been arrested multiple times in his homeland and had his often sexually provocative work censored, appeared to struggle with depression. In a foreboding Weibo post on Jan. 27, he wrote: “Every year my wish is always the same: Die earlier.” He quickly followed it up with another post saying: “Hopefully this year [I] can achieve it.”
He also journaled his most intimate thoughts on his web site in posts dating back to 2007.
On the last entry written on Sept. 17, he said: “I always am able to hear the sound of gunshots. When it first started I felt a bit afraid but after time went on, I got used to it. The sound is as if someone is using a mallet to nail things in my brain. It’s like a construction ground…there are lots of homeless pitiful people in my brain that cry and scream. I’m about to be screamed to death. They don’t let me sleep and don’t let me go out of the house.
“When I view my reflection in a mirror, no matter what angle I look it always seems like I’m about to go attend my own funeral. The negativity is that heavy. Every destination is as if I am paying my last respects before rushing off to the funeral hall.”
He added: “I am also afraid of going out to hear those words of concern. ‘You look so happy, how can you be depressed? What can you be depressed about?'”
It appears unlikely that Ren Hang sought professional help as he wrote in his blog: “All these years, I’ve been giving myself treatment.”