Painter #11 (Jian Hua)Painter #3 (Zhong Haibo)Painter #4 (Cai Yongsheng)Painter #9 (Wang Wei)Painter #10 (Student)Painter #5 (Huang Wenlong)Painter #12 (Lin Sen)Painter #1 (Pan Jin)Painter #2 (Mr. Lin)Painter #6  (Wang Yizhang)Still Life #1Still Life #2Still Life #3Still Life #4Still Life #6Still Life #7Still Life #5Exhibition Detail
Making Mona Lisa
Wushipu and Haicang are two of numerous communities in Xiamen where entire apartment complexes are inhabited by production painters. The production painters fill orders for oil paintings that end up in furniture showrooms, hotels, and tourist art galleries around the world. Although anyone can go online to email a photo to be made into an oil painting and shipped to their front door, many of the orders ask the artist to make multiple copies of the same image. The painters charge by the square foot and by skill level. Common subjects are reproductions of famous paintings. The artists usually focus on one style of painting, specializing in landscapes, van Gogh sunflowers, Degas ballerinas, Thomas Kincaid cottages, etc.

I visited the painters to make portraits of them in their live/work spaces. Instead of printing the images, I commissioned paintings of the photographs (for close to the same cost as having an inkjet print made here in the US). I also made photographic prints of still life images of the painters’ live/work spaces. This work explores notions of the “original” work of art and its value, authorship, and the interplay between photography and painting.