China’s Van Goghs
In China, in the village of Dafen, all the inhabitants make their living from oil painting. In small family workshops, dirty but bustling with life, all day long, and for much of the night, they paint reproductions of famous works. Each has their speciality. That of Xiaoyong Zhao is the complete works of Van Gogh, of which he sells hundreds of copies of Sunflowers, The Starry Night or Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear via a backer based in Amsterdam. With each new order, he harnesses all of his family, in search of the brushstroke that will perfectly render the luminosity of the halo of stars in the sky of Arles or find the emotion of the artist’s fixed gaze. Brushstrokes that he dreams one day he will observe closely in the originals… The incredible story of Xiaoyong Zhao is also that of a contemporary world in which, from one end to the other, from southern China to Amsterdam, everybody is connected, yet without knowing the other. And the disappointment of Xiaoyong Zhao when he confronts his dream with reality is also that of Mao’s China as it discovers capitalism.