An Artistic Day Out in Dafen

Joe Macpherson   |   January 1, 2020



Character and style surrounds this village

Shenzhen has several art communities and creative spaces, but the most popular and well known one is undoubtedly Dafen Oil Painting Village in Longgang District. In a bustling city like Shenzhen it can sometimes be hard to know where to go during a day off, especially if you don’t fancy a hike or park that day (probably the two most popular things to do during free time). Dafen Oil Painting Village provides the opportunity to have a nice walk, get some fresh air and soak in some culture at the same time.


Lovely colored architecture


Nice area for a walk, with lots to see

Founded in 1989 by a Hong Kong businessman it has expanded to include over 700 local businesses and art outlets as well as thousands of local artists. At one point the village produced over 60% of the world’s oil paintings.

Walking around here you can see virtually every type of painting style from abstract to impressionism and all the ones in between. Many of these are in small studios which you can browse around in and look at the art undisturbed by the owner. Some of the art is done in the little alleys between buildings, where the artists are in their zone, focused on a picture from an iPad, making a flawless reproduction or two. You can stand and watch as magic happens in front of you.


You can watch artists create in front of your eyes


Artists tools on display


Local artist creating alleyway art

The art is incredibly cheap to buy here, with small pieces starting at 30RMB. With so many vendors negotiating is quite possible so make sure you get the best deal possible. You can also bring with you any picture/photograph and they can make an oil reproduction on any size canvas you want. This can make for an excellent gift. For a few hundred Yuan you can commission an artist to copy your favorite piece of art, your wedding photo, or photos of your family. Insist on “A” quality – it costs a little more but it’s worth it. You can also get incredibly rapid framing while you wait and inexpensive art supplies


Lots of art on sale


art starts from as low as 30 RMB


Rapid framing is available too

The buildings themselves are also a joy to look at, with pastel tones and graffiti murals this is like an art walk, seeing what you can spot next. The narrow alleyways give a great feeling of exploration as you never know what you will see around the corner. Even the kindergarten has an artistic vibe to it!  It’s authentic feeling by the lack of chain businesses here, no Starbucks or KFC to be seen. This is a refreshing thing to see in a city of shopping malls and clone stores.


Murals in the streets


Treasure hunt of art to be found in Dafen


If you get time, check out the ‘Art Space Café’ this coffee shop is practically a gallery in its own right, and many people come here to work in solitude or just to take pictures


People come here for photos as well as coffee


Very artistic coffee shop. Perfect to relax

As well as the smaller galleries and stalls there is a large art museum to see. Spread over 2 floors this houses a large and ever-changing set of exhibitions, usually by local artists. This is a clean, modern museum and is definitely worth checking it out if you are in the area.


Large modern museum

Overall I feel Dafen Oil Painting Village makes for a great day away from the city centre, it’s suitable for solo traveler, group of friends or a family day out. Even on weekends it is not particularly busy here and the charm and character of this place will leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed.   The future of the village is uncertain, with the cities rapid development and modernization, who knows how long this community will last for.  Go here while you can


Fishing or art?


The unique vibe of Dafen


Architecture and art. Nice break from the city

How to get here

Dafen metro station (line 3) exit A1
Walk forward past the Starbucks and McDonald’s. Make a sharp left around the corner. Walk forward past the craftsman stores. The entrance is down some stairs on the right.

You can Take Bus No.306 ; 371; 376; 379; 383; 822; 836; b665; b741; e2; m227; m265; m271; m301


Oil Painting village, Buji, Longgang District, Shenzhen深圳市龙岗区布吉镇大芬油画村

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