When Michael Mandiberg visited Dafen Oil Painting Village (in Shenzhen) one Friday morning, he was awe-struck by the quantity of paintings in the village. Disoriented and confused, he wondered if Dafen was really the village described in a New York Times report, which drew him from New York to Dafen earlier this month.
Dafen Oil Painting Village (in Shenzhen)
"The New York Times said Dafen was a village, but what I saw is a modern city, with lots of shops, buildings, and factories," Mandiberg told the Shenzhen Daily after spending a week there.
Painters and limners from all over the country gather in Dafen Village
An assistant professor with the Department of Media Culture of the City University of New York, Mandiberg became interested in Dafen after reading a New York Times report entitled "Own Original Chinese Copies of Real Western Art" published July 15, 2005. He came to Dafen to shoot a 10-minute documentary for student research and screening in galleries.
Busy workshop in Dafen Village
Mandiberg spent a whole week talking to painters, and visiting shops, museums and factories. It was a brand-new experience for him, as he had never seen such mass-production of art.
media focus on Dafen Village
He was especially interested in the two factories he visited. In one of the factories, the process of producing a painting is broken down into five stages, with skillful painters in charge of the first and final stages. In the other factory, the painting is produced in a 20-part process.
"Dafen is a good place for painters to make a living. In New York, most artists have to do other jobs, like teaching or working in galleries, to support themselves," said Mandiberg.
However, Mandiberg is not optimistic about the future of original works from the village. "Some museums in Dafen sell originals at prices as high as US,000, but foreigners will not buy them. When people buy a painting, they want identification with artists. People don't spend over US0 on an object which they are not familiar with," he said. (by Helen Deng)
A Brief Introduction to Da Fen Oil Painting Village
Da Fen Village is a village under the jurisdiction of Buji Neighborhood Committee of Longgang District, Shenzhen City. It is with 4 square kilometers and over 300 aboriginal people. In 1989, Mr. Huang Jiang, a Hong Kong artist came to Da Fen. He rented the residential buildings and hired arts students and artists to do the creation, imitation, collection and export of the oil paintings, thus, bringing the special industry of oil paintings to Da Fen Village and "Da Fen Oil Paintings" have become the well- known cultural brand at home and abroad.
Since 1998, both the district-lelvel and town-level governments have made Da Fen Oil Painting Village a key project for cultural construction, making investments at different periods of time on the changing of its environment, providing regulations and guidance to the oil painting market, meanwhile strengthening the promotion and publicizing of it, and creating Da Fen Oil Painting Village as a unique culture industry brand. Currently, in Da Fen Oil Painting Village, there are 622 galleries and over 5,000 artists. Da Fen Oil Painting Village mainly relies on producing the original and imitation paintings. It also sells national paintings, calligraphy, arts and crafts, sculptures and picture frames and colors ,etc. as subsidiary, which forms an oil painting industry circle with Da Fen Village as the center, radiating Fujian Province, Guangdong Province, Hunan Province, Jiangxi Proince, as well as Hong Kong and Macao. The oil paintings from Da Fen Village are mainly sold to Europe, America and Africa. There is a global market for them.
In November, 2004, at the First Shezhen International Cultural Industry Fair, Da Fen Oil Painting Village was highlighted attributed to its unique industry development mode. It won the great attention from all levels of leaders as well as from many media. During this symposium, Mr. Li Chang Chun, the standing committee member of CPC Political Bureau and Mr. Liu Yun Shan, the committee member of CPC Political Bureau and Director of Propaganda Department of CPC came to visit Da Fen Village respectively and gave positive comments on its achievement of the cultural development. In November 2004, Da Fen Oil Painting Village was named by China Cultural Department as "Cultural Industry Model Base".