Chinese Copy Culture
Gets Kind of Awesome

August 2, 2013 | Marina Galperina

There’s a lot of coverage of China’s mass reproduction industry — from the Dafen Oil Painting Village documentary shots by Haibo Yu  to Michael Wolf’s portraits of the copy artists with their copies of Francis Bacon, Chuck Close and Ed Ruscha. There are also conceptual art projects like Phil Thompson’s censored art in museums on Google Streetview reproduced as abstract painting in that same famous village, as well as Michael Mandiberg commissioned reproductions of the censored Tiananmen Square photo.

Artist Zhenhan Hao, Chinese national studying in London, explores this topic differently, without demonization or kitsch. For his RCA 2013 graduate show in the UK, he asked the artists to reinterpret the products they are making for Western consumption using their imagination, as featured on We Make Money Not Art.

I have taken on the guise of an agent and am managing two research-practices simultaneously under different social contexts. In China, I have proposed a new production model for craftspeople in Dafen village and Jingdezhen to imitate and create at the same time. Together, we co-produced a series of improvised products that sought to inspire the imitators to explore their imagination and creativity.

This is a Van Gogh oil painter who painted his own bedroom in the style of Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles.

Another artisan took classic Church’s shoes and made them the color of trainers while tailors designed a Barbour jacket in Chinese symbol and patterns.

Here’s the second part of his project:

In London, I introduced Chinese imitation culture through a workshop with the absurd aim of drawing perfect circles.

The artist’s perspective is very refreshing, anti-meme-y and dignifying.