Travel Report: Dafen Oil Painting Village, Shenzhen.
February 2018. Shenzhen’s world famous Dafen Oil Painting Village was once responsible for a staggering 60% of the globe’s known replica oil paintings. Wherever you are in the world, from hotels and cafes to restaurants, offices and train stations, chances are that painting on the wall came from Dafen. These days the village stands as a tourist curiosity, though there are still plenty of studios (about 600) and galleries among the shops and cafes.
Dafen Oil Painting Village offers up some welcome respite from Shenzhen’s unrelenting urban buzz. Stroll through the peaceful, leafy streets and you’ll find replica Rembrandts and Picassos starting from as little as 200RMB (£23/€26/$32). There are also young, up and coming painters showcasing original creations, though you’ll have to dig deeper into your pockets to take one home.
Dafen Oil Painting Village, Shenzhen.
The village is a pleasant place to wander, even if you have no intention of buying. But be warned, some of the pieces on show are so impressive and wonderfully cheap you’ll find it quite the challenge to come away empty-handed.
Indeed, Wonderboy found himself charmed by this impressionist interpretation of downtown Hong Kong from the 1960s. He paid 45RMB (£5/€6/$8).
I was determined not to burden myself with any unnecessary purchases that I’d then have to drag around China for the rest of the trip. But then I saw this giant tin bottle top that just screamed, “BUY ME!” I can’t recall what I paid, but it wasn’t much. Damn you, Dafen Oil Painting Village!
Duck into some of the village’s narrow side alleys and you can find some amazing works in progress. Although this guy seemed happy enough for me to take his picture, as a rule you should exercise caution. Many artists will simply wave you away as soon as they see your camera.
A number of painters here also hold workshops where you can learn some tricks of the trade. Everyone’s invited it seems, from beginners and art students to tourists and kids. Just take a seat, grab a brush, open your mind and see what comes out…
If you’re in Shenzhen, you can swing by the village anytime, the area is open daily from morning till night. For more info and to see a range of their paintings available for purchase, take a look at their website.
After you’re done in the village, why not also pop into neighbouring Dafen Art Museum.
For more on my adventures in the city, check out my travel reports on Shenzhen.
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