Dafen Village, Shenzhen

Many of those oil paintings that hang in hotel rooms and starter homes across America are actually come from just one Chinese village, Dafen Village in Shenzhen, it is home to an estimated 5,000 workers and 800 shops, most of which sell huge stacks of imitatiton art. You can find repicas painting of masterpieces by Picasso, Warhol, Monet, and others. And there are crisp portraits of Presidents Bush, Clinton, Elvis Presley, Princess Diana.

“American property owners and hotels are usually the biggest consumers of Dafen’s works. The more houses they built in the United States, the more paintings are needed from Dafen.” said Zhao Xiaohong, the deputy of the Art Industry Association of Dafen.

In 1989, Huang Jiang, a Hong Kong entrepreneur and master art copier, moved to Dafen with about 20 other artists, lured by the low rents and proximity to Hong Kong. The cheap housing attracted thousands of painters and apprentices. Over the years, Dafen became famous for its efficient reproduction assembly lines that made copycat masterpieces. However, there are also many high quality paintings, painted by individuals and not created on assembly lines.

As costs for labor increase, improvement of printing technology and foreign buyers look elsewhere. Hard times have fallen on Dafen, some artists are struggling to survive, and others are hanging up their brushes entirely.

“A lot of artists have given up and left, before, the international market was huge, and profits were high; we’d sell two or three paintings a day and be able to feed our families. Now we sell five or six, and we still can’t,” said Xie, an art school graduate from the southeastern province of Jiangxi.

Lin Jinghong, a shopkeeper of Hongyi Oil Paintings,  said that his business is doing quite well with domestic tourists and wholesalers from Russia. “You build relationships, and people come back to you, only a few people leave – maybe they’re just bad painters. There are still opportunities here.”

Knock-off masterpieces: A painter works on a copy of a portrait in a studio at Dafen Oil Painting Village in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong province Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2375270/Dafen-Oil-Painting-Village-thousands-artists-recreate-paintings-sale-overseas.html#ixzz4Kg342W1p Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
Knock-off masterpieces: A painter works on a copy of a portrait in a studio at Dafen Oil Painting Village in Shenzhen, south China’s Guangdong province
A painter works on an oil painting next to a portrait of China's late Chairman Mao Zedong in his studio selling the portraits of U.S. President Barack Obama (bottom L), China's President Hu Jintao (top C) and late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (top R)
A painter works on an oil painting next to a portrait of China’s late Chairman Mao Zedong in his studio selling the portraits of U.S. President Barack Obama (bottom L), China’s President Hu Jintao (top C) and late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (top R)
Painter Zhao Xiaoyong works on a copy of a self-portrait by Van Gogh in his gallery: Artists here manufacture some 60 per cent of the total global volume in such knock-off canvases, according to the China Daily
Painter Zhao Xiaoyong works on a copy of a self-portrait by Van Gogh in his gallery: Artists here manufacture some 60 per cent of the total global volume in such knock-off canvases, according to the China Daily
A woman decorates heavy, gilded frames outside a gallery: Thousands of artists work in Dafen, producing paintings which sell online for an average of £40 each
A woman decorates heavy, gilded frames outside a gallery: Thousands of artists work in Dafen, producing paintings which sell online for an average of £40 each
A painter, who has lost a right arm, works in her studio: Many of the artists are trained in the required techniques at Chinese at art academies. But faced with the difficulty of making a living from their own compositions, they produce dozens of replicas of iconic paintings daily to make ends meet
A painter, who has lost a right arm, works in her studio: Many of the artists are trained in the required techniques at Chinese at art academies. But faced with the difficulty of making a living from their own compositions, they produce dozens of replicas of iconic paintings daily to make ends meet

By Philip Caruso

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *