Friday 14 September 2012

Dafen Art Village: Expecting the Unexpected

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Dafen Art Village

I don't think I will ever cease to be amazed by what I see here in China. Sometimes it's great (that sign is telling me I can have 9 dumplings for 4 RMB - roughly 80 cents - ??? sign me up!) Sometimes it's less than great (oh look, that child is using their split pants, I've never seen that before ... you can't erase that, you just can't). Either way, it's a new experience and I can't discredit it for that!

One of the good surprise sites was the Dafen Art Village.  With Shenzhen being so new, it's easy to feel like there is a lack of character about the place, so stumbling into the tiny mishmash of streets that is Dafen Village it was a welcome site to behold.  Surrounded by a Wal-Mart, an elevated metro system, a highway and many highrises, Dafen puts you into a different China.  There is a distinct lack of "new" and a welcome amount of "used" - the Art part of the village itself is actually not that old, but it gives it the character it needed.

For a little history, Dafen Art Village is a reproduction art space. It started in the 1990's with 20 artists and has grown to approximately 5,000 artists and produces anywhere from 60% to 80% of the worlds reproductions (reports vary). Within the village you can find a mixture of reproduction (generally the big classics like Monet and Van Gogh,  and originals of the artists own creation. On a personal note, I'm not sure that I agree with the reproduction aspect, as it seems to take a bit of the art out of it, but as a space that I can wander relatively traffic free and be surrounded by some very impressive works, I'm all for it.
Dafen Art Village

One of my favourite sightings for the day - Obama and Dumbledore, two great men hanging out (get it!?) like it ain't no thang. What I wouldn't give to have these two men in the same room at the same time (not in painting form), oh the conversations!

Dafen Art Village
I was mostly taken with the tiny (like, tiny tiny) alley ways that served as the main display space for many of the artists. It made the area feel a little bit secret and really quite special.

And I cannot finish typing this without mentioning the framing shops.  They were just as intriguing as the art themselves.  I love when people enjoy showcasing the work they do - and they did it well here in Dafen.

Much of the writing you'll see about Shenzhen is all about getting in, getting your knock-off needs and getting out again a.s.a.p. While there is no doubt in the world these people love to shop, it's nice to discover something just a little bit different every now and then.

I've also started treating myself to at least one adventure per week. Last weekend was all about Dafen, and this weekend will have me hiking from Dongchong to Xichong beach and I couldn't me more excited! Stay tuned ...


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