Dafen. The Painters Village from China

Recently we have watched a documentary about the painters village in China. Quickly we went to the computer to locate it in Google Maps, as we thought it might be a great destination to add for our Asian trip. Well, what is this Chinese painter village all about?

In the 1990s a few artists guided by the painter Huang Jiang decided to settle down in a small suburb of Buji, Shenzhen. The name of the place will end up being very famous among art lovers: Dafen.

CB's Xmas present

The idea: making a large numbers of replicas of oil painting by the old and not so old masters.

The low price of this replicas made them quickly very popular in a lot of countries all over the world. The demand for replicas increased and as the success grew more and more, painters and tourists alike found their way to Dafen. If you are an art lover and you want to check out this village, the winds are in your favor, so to say.

It should be clear to everybody buying here that these paintings are mostly replicas, not original work. Still, nowadays one can find in the Dafen village both originals and replicas, while the prices are still low. 

Of course the activity has fallen under strong criticism from the western artistic community, and the work was considered not to be "art". For example, at the London slavery exhibition, a “sweatshop” version of Jean-Louis David’s Bonaparte Crossing the Alps was the centerpiece, as protest against the work and the work conditions of the young artists in places like Dafen. 

Still the majority of buyers do not care about that, nor do they care that more and more walls in the western society are covered with these copies. They just want a painting after a personal photo or a copy of a masterpiece that they could not afford to buy. The strong point here: it is a painting with oil paint, not a photography. They do not care about the artistic value of it. And as long as there are enough people to think like this and pay for the work, Dafen will prosper and continue to deliver thousands upon thousands of copies throughout the world.

However, for some people "factory painting" has come to represent the threats of China’s rise.

What do you think?