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artofbonsai.org • View topic - Learning Bonsai
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 Post subject: Learning Bonsai
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 7:45 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:05 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 11:27 am 
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I agree with both Will and Mike.
Bonsai is different from other art forms in one essential way. As long as he masters the craft, even a person who lacks artistic talent, can create a very original and unique (call it artistic) bonsai. Not on a consistent basis such as a born artist, but nevertheless, he can do it.
Here is why. Forget about bonsai for a moment, and think about the art of "as found" objects. Such as viewing stones and driftwood. There are a lot of people who don't have the talent to creat great art, but have a good eye to recognize great art (critics belong to this category). These people couldn't paint a great painting, or create great art from any medium. They just don't have the talent. But they can tell when they see it. They are "above" those who can neither create nor see great art, but certainly below the talent level of an artist who can create art from any medium.
Back to the "as found" objects. These objects were already created by nature. We don't need the talent to create them. We just need to recognize them. And we are so lucky to have this luxury: we can take advantage of nature's unlimited resources, using our limited talent. All we need is to be a good critic: just recognize art in what lays in front of us, and use a little craft to bring that out.
Bonsai is a hybrid between "as found" objects and the rest of the fine arts. We use what nature created and alter it according to our vision. If we feel that we are not endowed with enough artistic talent, but feel confident that "we have an eye" for art, we always have the option to use collected material. When doing this, nature will do most of the work for us, we just have to refine it. Some material needs more "refining" than other. Some need a complete revamp. Some seems to be quite "impossible", and it needs a true artist to turn it around. But it is up to us to choose the material that is right for us. Less talent needs "easy" material. More talent can handle anything. It's like golf: with the handicap that is right for us, we all have a shot for being a champion.
The younger and more undeveloped the material, the more talent is required from the bonsaist. And growing bonsai from seed is the closest to creating art from scratch. In this case, we will need true artistic talent (and lots of time) to create a masterpiece.
So, here is the conclusion that no one said before:
Bonsai is the only art form, that allows a critic who masters the craft, to create a masterpiece. None of the other fine arts would let this happen.
Isn't this wonderful? Nature lets us take the credit for being a great artist, even if this may not be the case.


Last edited by Attila Soos on Tue Jul 18, 2006 3:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 12:43 pm 
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Attila,
Bonsai as the art of found objects --- I like this line of thought very much. This does a better job of explaining my philosophy of doing kusasomo than anything I've ever been able to express. When I create a single-species accent planting that works, the fraction of the credit that goes to me is miniscule; Nature has done virtually everything and I've only found the object and placed it in the proper frame and environment for us to be able to appreciate it as art. The role of the artist (or at least the advanced technician) increases as one moves to multi-species plantings. Here the possible combinations increase geometrically and the fraction of these combinations that are artistically successful falls off precipitously. As a result, I rarely succeed in these plantings. Perhaps I'll get better with experience.
When one moves from kusamono to bonsai with collected material, the perspective of bonsai as the art of found objects remains --- but now the role of the artist grows further and further. I've had the pleasure of watching Boon Manakitivipart work with collected trees; I'm astounded by his vision for how to bring out the art object within. Rarely does he choose the straightforward direction that I would have. Instead, he finds new ways to simplify and highlight the dominant lines of the tree, twisting radically where necessary and making silk purses of sow's-ear branches that I would have cut away on a first pass through the tree.
Thus while I agree with the found object philosophy (and while I think it's perfect to describe what I do with kusamono), I find it hard to imagine many collected trees that could come near their potential without the further work of a masterful artist. In the end, your "hybrid" view, between found object and other fine arts hits closest to the mark.
With my best regards,
Carl


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 6:39 pm 
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Well Vance, what does each generation say about the following generation and the one after that?
How many times do I remember hearing words to the effect " What the hell are you doing boy? Put yourself to some good use around here." 50yrs ago?


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If you go back through the history of the last 50 years you see that this is a trend. Yes the older generation does tend to rag on the newer generation, but the things I see happening today are truly destructive. They said much about my generation but at the same time we were the best educated generation this country has ever produced.
Look at what is happening in modern education today. Unless you happen to be able to afford to put your children in private school, the public schools are producing children that think competition is wrong, cannot locate the major continents on a world globe, some cannot read and on a world scale our young people rank highest on self esteem but lowest in math, history and geography. They are being taught that there is no right or wrong just shades of grey and that America is the major problem in the world today. All of this leads away from anything anyone can call good.


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