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artofbonsai.org • View topic - Critique: The Maleficent Tree
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Walter, would you agree with me, that there is no absolute in art?
Whatever you say about it is always going to be incomplete, perhaps right from one point of view and wrong from another, or anything approximating those values. I should very much like to keep that awareness alive, on this forum.

We all have our opinions, and the (much appreciated) opportunity to express them here. But they are only our opinions. Should we impose them on others as statements of truth? Statements without substantiation, moreover?

When writing about art, we all try to capture what cannot be captured, ever. Therefore creative writing is a logical means of suggesting as precisely as possible what goes through our minds. It is approximating art by using art, in a way. But writing, most of the time, is also communicating, not just self-expression. A margin of freedom should be left to the reader, by the writer's balance of expression and reserve.
This is what disturbs me in the "heart of darkness" qualification: A) it sounds theatrical to me. B): naturalistic styling, as far as I can see, comes closest to what grows in nature, or is supposed to suggest that. In other words, it comes closest to what is familiar, admired or not admired, which stirs no particular (let alone primitive) emotions. The only instances I can think of, where this still happens, is if our imagination leaps from a bonsai to a tree which resembles it, and which for some reason we associate with certain events or a train of thought and feeling. Of course, the bonsai artist can aim at awakening emotions - but would that necessarily be through naturalistic styling?

Nick Lenz's tree does not belong to that category; maybe you would call it "modernistic"? (No reference, btw, to arguments on the IBC.)
Sh..ooot! This is too long. Apologies!
Lisa


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 Post subject: The wabi-sabi question
PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 1:49 pm 
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Dear Candy
Thanks for your reply. I fully accept every personal approach to the art of bonsai, and I fully understand that we are entering the world of bonsai as individuals. With each our open minds to what bonsai as art is today, and what it can be in the future. What I express here, is my personal view, and my inner feelings for Bonsai.

The difficult thing when discussing in writing is all the sub lines, and extra words that could have been put in, as one can do when discussing face to face, which softens the arguments. Therefore our arguments might stand a little stronger in the written word, than how they are meant to be. I will carry on anyway.

Art is communication, but in my opinion Bonsai is an art that solely reflects nature, and relation between human and nature. The communication in Bonsai has to communicate that part, and not express fear or any other emotion that is not related to nature. These other emotions must be told by other art forms, because I find they don't belong in the Bonsai world.

There is so much to tell via Bonsai, so I don't find this limit ourselves from expressing many feelings or evoke pictures and emotions in our minds through the use of Bonsai. Remember a struggling tree hanging from a cliff, haunted by heavy snowfall, frosty winds and warm dry summers. With its dead parts of branches, a split trunk and dense new foliage it tells a dramatic story. A story that could be linked to the history of a human life. This is Bonsai as art.

Yes, I do find that Bonsai has to be beautiful in some way. I don?t buy the artificial tries to move Bonsai into a part of the art world where non naturalistic elements are put together with Bonsais. Is it then Bonsai that the artist wants to show, or is it something else? Shouldn't the creator choose another palette, another art form, to express her/his feelings and history then?

Concerning the specific discussed tree I agree that the tree will not be the same if the hollows are changed i.e., but I also think it shouldn't be the same tree. It is not a perfect Bonsai and needs some work to be improved into what I find is a good Bonsai. Will it be a resemble of thousands of other bonsais? Maybe, because it doesn't poses the qualities of being extraordinary at this point.

Let's move on to another of your questions Candy.

"Can you not recognize that there are artists that may transcend the wabi-sabi" - Must every bonsai that you value as art, have the wabi-sabi element??

I think wabi-sabi is very important to try to understand, allthough I also truly understand that this is far apart from western thinking. Transcending wabi-sabi might be an explanation of not trying to approach this part of the art, which is grounded deeply in the Japanese understanding of this art form. But why transcend wabi-sabi?

Last I must confess that wabi-sabi is necessary for me when enjoying a Bonsai of high value. But the approach to this is, that wabi-sabi always shows its presence I study such a tree. It isn't so that I seek it; it just shows to be present by the Bonsais I am touched by.

?Can you not expand your limited definition and appreciate when an artist pushes the envelope and is so successful in communicating on such a basic level? ?

I am sorry, but I doesn't find my emotions evoked or find the same elements of joy in this Bonsai, that others doe. Inst it so with many art forms? We don?t see the same in the same painting or sculpture, because we are different, and have different lives and heritages.

Bonsai art can be pushed; it just has to be in the right direction. In link with nature. If we let Bonsai be too simple in communication and expression I think it will lose power, and the art form will decay.

I surely don't find my artistic freedom limited, neither in the way I work or in the way I enjoy others work. Because Bonsai has so deep layers of spiritual and artistic elements to explore. How else could this art form withstand hundred of years of evolution, wars, and Cultural Revolution?
We doesn't have to achieve an agreement here I think. I just hope the discussions here will open our minds, and challenge our approach to Bonsai.

Thanks for your answer.
Kind regards
Morten Albek


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 Post subject: Outline
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The best way to study outlines of different trees is to study the trees in nature. There are good and bad trees in nature. You make your own decision on what to follow or copy.

Keep it Simple and Basic. Don't make it too complicated or it could just get messy. I also find a Focus, or someting of interest. These are my keys that I use when I design a tree.

I drew the outline of this Rhododendron.

If you want to focus on the LINE of the tree, you can design a tall tree. If you want to focus on the base, the outline should be brought down.
To find a focal point is a basic in designing bonsai. This tree, I think, the base is what I would focus on.
Best regards,
Boon
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 Post subject: Re: Outline
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