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About This Project

An elbow grease printer Dafen

Over the past 20 years, Dafen has become the largest concentration of painters in the World.

In 1989, a rich Hong Kong man decided to setup a painting reproduction workshop in Dafen. Twenty years later, the village now has the largest concentration of painters in the World. Every style at every price and quality can be found here, where having a painting reproduced is almost as easy as clicking on the “print” button of one’s computer. Walking in the narrow streets of this small village on the outskirts of Shenzen, we discover the secrets of paintings found in the walls of inexpensive hotels and cruise liners. Whole families apply a mass production approach to painting reproduction: one person builds the frame, another stretches out the canvas and then it’s time to paint, with as many painters as there are colors in the picture. In this way, the 50 identical paintings ordered by a Parisian client are completed in less than 3 days. Yet, as is so often the case in China, this image hides a more complex reality: in Dafen, painting is not only a business, but also a way of life, and the love for this practice can be felt on each street corner.