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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2007 11:15 am 
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Attila Soos wrote:
I see the term Naturalistic as an attempt to expand the range of forms and elements beyond the boundaries generally accepted by the bonsai tradition. In short, an attempt to break free from tradition. The underlying explanation is "if we can find it in nature, why not try to represent it through bonsai".

As far as I know, the first root or inspiration of bonsai is the nature himself. Are you saying that bonsai has developed to such extend that bonsai, for some people, moves further to it's root, and that a Naturalistic bonsaika wants to go back to the nature, the first time root or inspiration ? In that case, I can say that it is a modern or post-modern movement, because in this time: almost everything can be an art. I agree that we can't compare these different styled bonsai like we can't compare jazz and rock and classical music.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 2:23 pm 
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Ron Sudiono wrote:
Are you saying that bonsai has developed to such extend that bonsai, for some people, moves further to it's root, and that a Naturalistic bonsaika wants to go back to the nature, the first time root or inspiration ?

Exactly.
I am just reading "The Secret Teachings in the Art of Japanese Gardens: Design Principles, Aesthetic Values" by David A. Slawson.
In this book the author talks about how in Japan the art of garden design is passed from the master to student. There are two parts to it: one is the written manual, and the other one is the oral teaching. None of the two is complete without the other. The written part used to be called "secret text", since it was only available to a very restricted number of pupils. But the "secret texts" were far from being complete by themselves, since the master needed to do a lot of explanation and interpretation orally.
The danger of strictly following the written instructions is that it can lead to superficial cliches, with no real substance. Just like the Western stereotype of Japanese garden, that includes stone lanterns and little red arched bridges. The problem is that stone lantersn and arched bridges alone are not the essence of the Japanese garden.
In my opinion, this is what happened with bonsai. The written instructions, or the bonsai literature, became the primary source of teaching world-wide. When this happens, it is inevitable that certain forms and patterns are re-created over and over again, and bonsai de-generates into fine craftmanship and nothing else. Tradition, by definition, cannot teach art, but only craftmanship, since it relies exclusively on pre-determined formal/spatial relationships.
Naturalistic bonsai wants to get away from all that and return to bonsai as a way of re-discovering nature with the beginner's eye.
It's not really a style, but rather a philosophical foundation that an artist can use to build upon.
This doesn't mean that there is no naturalistic bonsai in Japan. Quite to the contrary, there are many great bonsai from Japan that we could call "naturalistic". But it is the West where this ideology can flourish, due to the absence of any tradition.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 5:07 am 
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Attila Soos wrote:
I am just reading "The Secret Teachings in the Art of Japanese Gardens: Design Principles, Aesthetic Values" by David A. Slawson.

David also mentioned the shift from nature-inspired approach to quality-inspired approach in designing gardens. Bonsai is nowaday seen as a bunch of ?elements? which have qualities: a complex configuration of trunk(s), branches, leafs, but also movements, lines, colours, positive/negative areas, etc. It loses it?s ?quality? as a spiritual medium; or as a mean to be closer to nature. I think that we must be optimistic now: every era has delivered something worthy, so let?s celebrate the freedom to make choice how ?to bonsai?.
So, I like to put the naturalistic approach side by side near others who love other approaches as well. You used the right word here: like the Bunjin, we talk about an approach and not a bonsai style in the meaning of tree forms. The Bunjin men (wen ren) were also people who stood for a different approach towards ?main stream? art and establish social system at that moment.
The term ?Japanese garden? is clear to me. We made an error again and again to use the same words to discuss different things or phenomena with others. At the most superficial level one talk about a Japanese garden as a personal feeling and tought about her/his beliefs or ideal. It could mean a simple lantern or a red bridge. At a (much) deeper level, we all know that a Japanese garden is a concept that doesn?t correspondend with the reality of physical things like lanterns or even rocks, but more suitable to express a kind of atmosphere. The same to bonsai. Don?t make this error when discussing the term with others, but stands open to the world of others.
There was a big discussion about the term ?Zen garden?. Wybe Kuitert proved that at least, against the firm common belief that time, there were no evidences to support the belief that zen gardens means gardens made by zen monks as a religious act. But the term Zen garden was already spread out through out the world as a (superficial) concept that such garden really has to do with the zen religion. To me, there is no dicussion: zen gardens are gardens made by zen monks, and it happens so that these gardens give me a specific atmosphere that make me calm. After all, one who doesn?t know what zen is, can be told anything to be in-zen, it doesn?t mean anything, anyway. I prefer to learn how to feel that specific atmosphere than to discuss whether a garden called a zen garden or not.


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