Monday, April 4, 2016

Shenzhen's Painting Village

A tray for discarded paint in Dafen Painting Village

Shenzhen may not be the oldest city in China but it does have it's share of attractions. One of these is Dafen oil painting village. A beautiful area where paintings of any kind can be found or commissioned. Dafen serves as a location where companies from around the world can have oil painting produced either in large quantities or as single commissions. It is a very interesting area and a must see for both the art and the low prices.

Dafen is located on line 3 in Shenzhen. It is about an hour away from the city center. To get there you can take line three towards the outside of the city, you go 2 stops past the Buji interchange station and get off at Dafen station. You then have to follow the road outside of the station a bit to find what you are looking for. A translator app on your phone and the words "Where can I buy paintings?" Should be enough to get the locals to point you in the right direction. You will know you have found the entrance to the "village" when you see a large statue of a hand holding a paint brush.

Once you are inside the village you will see dozens of shops displaying their painting either inside as a gallery, or outside on the street.

Prices vary by the shop and size of the painting. If you find a painting you like but it is too expensive you can bargain it down, or just go to the next shop. A lot of the images repeat at different shops. It is very possible to get a wall sized print for less than 300 rmb. That is less than 50 U.S. dollars. The smaller prints can often be had for less than 100rmb.

The peacocks eyes

Among all of the painting vendors you will also find painting supply shops. These can provide you with any brush imaginable (some of which are comically large) ink trays, easels, canvas etc.

Keep going through the village and you can also find some vendors who make and sell custom and standard frames. You can get one of those wall sized prints framed up real cheap, or if you are printing your own photos you can get them framed at incredibly low prices. I have been told that Dafen is one of the world leaders in providing mass produced oil paintings and custom frames to other countries.

Some shops will take commissions for paintings, and others can take a photograph and use a paint over a print of the image to render it as a painting. You can watch a lot of this painting being done on the street. Both original works, copies of other artwork, and photo to painting conversions.

You can see that this man is copying an image from his phone.
My favorite part of visit the painting village however was just the people there. It was very interesting to see them hard at work committing what would be considered a crime on multiple levels in my own country. Not only that but they will offer you classes to teach you how to do the same! Even after a year here I still can't get past the totally different culture at times.

It is definitely a very interesting place and I think that it will be one I choose to visit again and again. It was fun to shoot there, I found resources that will make my photography even more fun there, and I can buy something to populate my sparse walls with as well. I will be returning to purchase frames and have some photos printed to display and sell in some of Shenzhen and Hong Kong's art shows this year. A lot of fun this place.

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