Mass produced painting means lower price
Updated: 2012-08-17 11:16
By Wang Wen (China Daily)
Replicas of famous works becoming popular decorations for households
China's taste for commercially produced art has increased enormously in recent years, as more and more people realize they don't have to spend enormous amounts to buy something that looks special, regardless of their tastes.
Although high-priced originals are readily available, quality reproductions of famous oil paintings are becoming the most popular forms of art decoration for the home.
Galleries selling replicas have started to appear all over the country, and are gaining a significant share of what is now being considered a sub-sector of the wider building materials market.
Gu Jishu, an interior designer operating her own studio in Beijing, said she recently took a group of her clients to a market in the Chaoyang district to choose oil paintings there.
"In the past they would have to have bought prints - but now almost half of my customers choose good-quality commercially produced oil paintings instead for their homes," said Gu.
Up until a couple of years ago, commissioning an interior designer was considered by many as a luxury, said Gu.
But clients today are willing and able to spend more, and quality pieces of art can be bought for very reasonable prices; 2,500 yuan ($742) can buy an abstract oil painting in Beijing, but elsewhere in the country prices can be far lower than that.
"It only cost about 400 yuan - a reproduction of a famous modern artist's work," Fu said.
"The painting looks great, telling me there was certainly no need to buy an original work," Fu said. "I couldn't have afforded one, anyway."
Thousands of consumers across China support production bases for replicas like the one painted in Dafen village.
Many have existed for years, but in the past a lot of the work was purely for the export market.
For local artists, the work has been regular, stable and lucrative.
Those working in Dafen now sell almost half of their products at home, but they added that export numbers have been dropping since 2008, as many of their overseas buyers were affected by the financial crisis.
Artworks from many similar local villages are sold all over China.
"Plenty of local painters contact me, and come to my gallery, to try to sell their works," said Keturah Lin, the manager of Beijing Central Art Gallery.
Fu Xiaolei confessed to some embarrassment when some of her friends asked whether hers was original work.
"I would certainly consider buying original art, but you have to be realistic about what this kind of art is for - it's a replica, it's for decoration, rather than art."
Another option for buyers in the lower end of the market is to buy a print.
Interior designer Gu Jishu says the quality available on the market is excellent, as the print technology being used is improving all the time.
Another lucrative market for Chinese interior designers and art sellers is the country's booming and expanding hotel industry, in which vast areas of space need to be decorated and covered.
Some artists are also managing to open galleries inside hotels, where guests can buy their work.
Axel Bethke, manager of the Beijing Kempinski Hotel, said it's a growing trend, but his company, employs a gallery to select its artwork - a selection of original oil paintings and sculptures, which is changed every two or three months.