1. Dafen Oil Painting Village, February 2018. Shenzhen’s world famous oil painting district was once responsible for a staggering 60% of the globe’s known replica oil paintings. Wherever you were 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 it’s mostly a tourist curiosity, though there are still plenty of studios (about 600) and galleries among all the shops and cafes. Needless to say I didn’t pass up the opportunity to scoot over there myself to see what the deal was.
2. Dafen Oil Painting Village, February 2018. The 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 pedaling original creations, though you’ll have to dig deeper into your pockets to take one home.
3. Dafen Oil Painting Village, February 2018. It’s a pleasant place to wander, even if you have no intention of buying. But some of the pieces on show are so impressive and so wonderfully cheap you’ll find it quite the challenge to come away empty-handed. Indeed Wonderboy left this store with an impressionist interpretation of downtown Hong Kong from the 1960s. He paid 45RMB (£5/€6/$8).
4. Dafen Oil Painting Village, February 2018. 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, not to mention the ordeal of eventually getting it back to my treasure trove of travel stuff stored safely in my parents’ attic. And 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.
5. Dafen Oil Painting Village, February 2018. Duck into some of the narrow side alleys and you can find some amazing works in progress. Although this guy seemed happy enough to be photographed, as a rule you should exercise some caution, as many artists will wave you away as soon as they see your camera. If you’re in Shenzhen, swing by and have a look anytime, the village is open daily from morning till night.
For more on my adventures in the city, check out more of My 5s on Shenzhen.
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