Vincent van Gogh only sold a few paintings in his lifetime, but Chinese copy artist Zhao Xiaoyong has sold over 90,000 reproductions of the Dutch painter’s masterpieces over the past 20 years.
Born in a rural Chinese village, Zhao moved to Dafen Oil Painting Village in 1996, with thousands of other migrant workers and aspiring artists, who had been flocking to Dafen since the late 1980s to paint copies of iconic works for global export.
He has long admired Van Gogh’s work and feels a special connection to the artist’s tragic life.
After decades of studying the artist’s paintings through photos, Zhao is invited to Amsterdam by his top client to see Van Gogh’s original work.
The trip is a shock and a revelation for Zhao and inspires him to pursue his own artistic expression, for as long as he can afford to do so.