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artofbonsai.org • View topic - The Myth of the Single Front
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2006 12:18 pm 
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2006 5:55 pm 
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Each tree, if it is to be properly regarded as bonsai, must show a level of technical proficiency, viewed from any angle. I don't believe anyone, with even a modicum of experience, would deny that.

However, it must be recognised, by even the most ardent proponent of this mythical "happou biraki" or "open on all sides" approach to bonsai, that there may be many angles from which one might abserve a bonsai with pleasure, but there will only be one "best" side, usually that presented to the viewer in a formal show.

To argue otherwise is simply vexatious, in my view. To engage in a long, tedious, Quixotic quest to prove wrong all who have gone before you is simply contention for the sake of contention, so far as I can see.
Would those who espouse this "Happou biraki" theory (and they seem to be a determined and very small minority) like to bear their theory out?
I would suggest the following method:

First, develop a modest collection of world class trees.

Second, gain entry to the world's great bonsai shows, to show off these trees.

Third, obtain approval to show these trees, on motorised turntables, to show all sides off to the judges.

Fourth, rely upon the commonsense of those judges to see the merits of these wonderful trees.

Fifth, stop bothering everyone about it all until you've managed to achieve stages one through four.

Can we reach an agreement here?


Last edited by Hector Johnson on Sat Apr 22, 2006 5:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Not quite Hector, when a painting is hung, it offers one single view, a view that is seen by all. However, when a bonsai is displayed, it offers many views as explained in the article. (You did read the article, right?)

A painting, being a two dimensional representation of three dimensional objects, can be viewed from slightly to the left or right, it can be viewed from slightly below or above center, nothing changes.

With a three dimensional object such as a bonsai, these slight variations in the viewing angle can bring out a whole different "tree" or "front" if you will. To not recognize this fact, to assume that everyone will see the exact same front, at the exact same angle, is misleading. The front we show in a photograph does not exist in real life for all intents and purposes.

Of course, we could always put a view finder and cross hairs on every bonsai display, as I did with Vance's Mugo on the first picture in the article. This should satisfy everyone and possibly force the artists front to be the only one viewed. However, knowing people, they will look behind the curtain anyhow.

To reuse a recent quote from a very talented artist, in Bonsai Today issue #101 on page 51 in an article by Marco Invernizzi titled "Transforming a Scots Pine" Marco says, "Have you ever wondered why Japanese bonsai lovers at bonsai exhibitions are not content to observe trees from the front only? They want to see then from all sides, and you will often find them squatted under a bonsai trying to see all the details."

He goes on to say, "The real beauty of bonsai can be found in the details and in the naturalness of the planting. Sometimes in our passion to see results, we end up with a tree that has all its branching and foliage arranged to be viewed only from the front. As soon as you look at another angle, you see large gaps or tangled branches."

You see, the concept of three dimensional bonsai and multiple fronts is not a new idea born of my untalented mind, it is in fact an old school of thought which, like it or not, is being put in to practice by some of the greatest bonsai artists of our time. Walter Pall, among others, regularly produces world class trees with many multiple fronts.

Granted, it is extremely more difficult and it requires much more talent, but it is not unfeasible, impossible, or out of line, it works, it has merit, and the results from those who keep these principles in mind are nothing short of breathtaking.
The proof is in the results.

Will


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Will,
What you have consistantly failed to acknowledge from what I have stated is that many bonsai techniques are used to make the chosen front look even better. I have also stated that styling a bonsai to be viewed from more than one front will sacrifice these techniques and make the one front not as good as it could have been. This is unacceptable to me. This is why the no front potted tree is not bonsai in my opinion. Please respond to this point.

And I have seen Marco several time work on trees. He often emphasizes making a tree look good from all angles. But he commits to a front and makes this his priority during the styling process. Marco's master Kimura is someone I have studied intently, and his work is often discussed by my teacher Boon. If you look closely at Kimura's branch structure, especially from a top view, you will see why a tree has to have a chosen front to look it's best. If you were to cut off a branch from a bonsai styled by Kimura, without seeing where you cut it off from you can tell if it came from the left side, the right side or the back side of the tree. To style in this fashion, the tree has to have a committed front.


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Don't hold your breath, Howard. Will has this particular bit in his teeth and seems determined to either crash through or crash.
I guess J Edgar Hoover was equally committed to his vision, whatever it was.
As I tried to point out, telling a painter his masterpiece is upside down doesn't mean the painter is wrong, but the teller. The ball crossed the plate, but the batter missed it completely.


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