The Chinese village of Dafen was once a place where thousands of professional painters made reproductions of Western masterpieces. At the government’s instigation, these artists now paint their own original works. Their paintings hang all over China, in a wide variety of settings, from hospitals to museums, and from offices and commercial buildings to outdoor public locations.
Fourteen ‘still lives’ show the diversity of the works. In carefully composed wide shots, the paintings with their locations and the people moving through them present a cross-section of modern China and a society in motion. A written statement by the respective creator introduces each painting.
The artists’ words sometimes convey hope and inspiration, but just as often, disappointment and fatigue. For most of them the shift to producing original work doesn’t represent a real improvement. Questions remain about the degree of artistic freedom they have and how their work is valued. Does the buyer see their work as an investment or merely as decoration? Is the work replaceable, or does it have lasting value?