Photofairs: New Canons

For the 2017 edition of PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai, the event has launched a new initiative, entitled Spotlight, that highlights an artist of particular relevance that has contributed widely to the field of contemporary photography. Taking place annually alongside the wider season of events, this year’s exhibition is devoted to the work of the late visionary, Ren Hang (1987-2017).

Both celebrated and censored, Hang paved a unique path for the future of photography, calling upon tradition and innovation in an extraordinary body of work that calls upon both poetic intimacy and abstractions within the human body. Deeply imaginative and bold in stylistic and thematic intent, the images utilise photography as a tool to better understand the world through physicality.

For the erotic undertones, Hang was arrested by PRC authorities several times. Since his death, however, a reassessment of the portfolio has been underway, avoiding the sexual-political framework within which the artist was often contextualised during his life. In collaboration with Beijing’s KWM artcenter, PHOTOFAIRS features 19 Photographs, an exhibition featuring that calls upon 19 images from Ren Hang’s last exhibition before his death, Beauty without Beards. Originally shown at the KWM artcenter in February 2017, all the images were the last to have been authenticated by the artist, and, in honour of the artist’s passing, will never be printed again.

Other exhibitions included in PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai 2017 include Insights: Tracing the history of color in fine art photography – beginning with the experimental dye-transfer prints of William Eggleston (CAMERA WORK) through to the romanticised landscapes of Shen Wei (Flowers Gallery) – and  Collectors Exhibition: Telling Tales, powered by De Beers, a unique show that offers the perspectives of four of China’s most influential art collectors – Adrian Cheng (K11 Art Foundation), David Chau (Cc Foundation), Jenny Wang (Fosun Foundation) and Thomas Shao (Modern Media Group).

Photofairs Shanghai runs 8-10 September. For more information:

1. Copyright Ren Hang.