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 Post subject: Profile: Cheng Cheng-Kung
PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2006 2:22 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:35 pm
Posts: 163
Location: The Art of Bonsai Project
Profile: Cheng Cheng-Kung

Born and raised in Taiwan,Cheng started his bonsai career in 1980. Surrounded by the beautiful mountains and scenery of his country,he had many occasions to observe the work of nature at its finest. Studying the structural impact of natural enviroment created the base for Cheng's extraordinary "Silk Carving Techniques"(Si-Diao). "Si-Diao" is a method of peeling wood fibre with special tools without leaving any toolmarks.

Due to his talent to visualize outstanding bonsai material, Cheng ingeniously adds "durable" age to his otherwise perfectly styled tree.

He published his "Bonsai Shari Si-Diao",part one and two,in 2004.
[Available through] Cheng is also a founding member of the"Taiwan Bonsai Creators' Association",founded in 1998. He had various international appearances on stage in countries like United States, Italy, Germany, England, Spain, Philippines, Singapore, China, South Africa and Korea among others.

Because my english is poor. . . I had answered most questions (throughly). -Cheng Cheng-Kung
(Ed note: Answers were edited only for clarity, subject matter or intent has not been changed)

The following is an on-line interview conducted with Cheng Cheng-Kung:

AoB: How did you get involved with bonsai?

Cheng Cheng-Kung: It started about twenty years ago. Perhaps you don't believe- I connected with bonsai art since my wedding ceremony. To decorate my wedding in a magnificent way, I purchased many bonsai and flowers. At that time, I was deeply attracted by the beauty of the bonsai art. Since that, bonsai creation has been my major interest. After years of being an amateur and accumulating all the experience needed, I realized my career dream, that is, to be one of the professional bonsai artists.

AoB: Taiwan is a small place, with a large concentration of great bonsai artists. Do you think that there is a competition between the bonsai artists, and is that a good thing?

Cheng Cheng-Kung: You are absolutely right! Due to such kind of environment, every bonsai artist in Taiwan, without exception, has to face the pressure of competition. A lot of professional artists working nearby leads to stimulate and inspire new ideas. We can learn, compete, and improve our view as well as our technical skills from others. I believe, just in the near future, bonsai genii will be born here.

AoB: Do you think that there is room for innovation in bonsai? Or would you rather follow the existing tradition?

Cheng Cheng-Kung: Taiwan is a special place blended with Chinese, Japanese, European and other colonization cultures. This culture diversity gives people here plenty of room for imagination and innovation. That's why keeping innovation is one trait of our nationality.

AoB: Your carvings of deadwood is spectacular. How did you develop your style, called "Si Diao"?

Cheng Cheng-Kung: If you carefully look at even advanced Japanese bonsai art, you still find that some artificial carving traces remain. Neither the appearance nor the quality of the carving part could compare with the natural Shari . Natural Shari always reveals the beautiful fine textures and the ages of the tree, because a natural rotten process occurs layer-by-layer flaking away. That's a real fiber carving induced by nature! To eliminate artificial marks of carving, I tried to imitate this natural process by tearing the wood "fiber-by-fiber" and to create beautiful artificial Shari . As I have shown, the carved Shari can have the same looks and quality as the natural one. I define this finishing process as "Si Diao", as this phrase means "fiber carving" in Chinese.

AoB: What is that makes "Si Diao" carving different from the rest of the crowd?

Cheng Cheng-Kung: My approach is to carve by following along the trend of wood fiber. I call this process "Si Diao". It is independent on what tools we use to accomplish. Sometimes I use hand-held burins; sometimes I carve by the helps of other electric- or pneumatic- powered tools. Thus, the main difference is on whether the carving is "deliberately" following along the trend of wood fiber or not.

Juniperus chinenis

AoB: Your carving style works best when applied to fresh wood that will be turned into deadwood. Can we also use this method on old wood of deciduous trees?

Cheng Cheng-Kung: No matter, live trunks, branches, or old wood can be used as materials for Si Diao. However, fibers of live trunks are longer, while shorter in old trunks. Shorter fibers are difficult to get a better result.

AoB: Who is the person that you have learned the most from? Can you tell us a few words about him?

Cheng Cheng-Kung: In the past, Si Diao was a very special technique and was known only among few specialists. Some friends of mine often gathered together for discussing and developing new skills. We also observed and learned techniques from the bonsai made by pioneers.

AoB: When someone gives you a raw material for styling, what is the first and most important thing that you are trying to find in it?

Cheng Cheng-Kung: To find out the specific characters and advantages of the raw material.

AoB: Do you have a favorite shape or style that you try to create with your trees?

Cheng Cheng-Kung: No! If we wish to be a top artist, we shall discard any preference in mind. We shall have a variety of talents, which can shape any styles of trees according to their specific characters.

AoB: You do a lot of demonstrations around the world. We have noticed that you are working very fast during these demos. How did you train to work with such a speed?

Cheng Cheng-Kung: The main reason for that is I have accumulated a lot of experience in bonsai creation, especially by starting from raw material and finishing it. I think such kind of training is essential.

AoB: When going to a demonstration, do you need to prepare yourself in advance?

Cheng Cheng-Kung: Some preliminary processes are needed. First of all, I shall prepare all tools, which will be used in the demonstration. I also need to plan how to utilize the time in an optimum way. And finally I shall check my files, notebook, projector and other which will be used for my verbal presentation.

AoB: When styling a tree, do you like to follow patterns in which the tree grows in nature. Is it important to you that a tree looks natural?

Cheng Cheng-Kung: The natural shape of a tree is a result of compromising with the environment. It is the best shape for photosynthesis and may thus be the main factor for maintaining tree vigor after a long-term cultivation. The natural shape also reveals the strength of bonsai and also agrees with the principle of aesthetics. So, creating a bonsai with natural shape is my fundamental belief.

AoB: Are there other art forms that you like to use as inspiration for your work?

Cheng Cheng-Kung: All things in the world are connected together. So I believe everything in live can be the inspiring source of creation.

AoB: What is your advice to a young person who wants to study bonsai? What is the best training that such a person could get

Cheng Cheng-Kung: To observe the ecology of plants and to study the aesthetics of lines are both important for newcomers.

AoB: Besides junipers, pines, and ficus, what other species would you list your favorites?

Cheng Cheng-Kung: I like all suitable species of bonsai. My favorites are not limited in junipers, pines, and ficus.

AoB: Can you name a few artists that you admire the most?

Cheng Cheng-Kung: I deeply respect the one from my true heart: the artist who can teach his own knowledge to others without keeping any secrets.

Last edited by Paul Stokes on Tue Jan 29, 2008 10:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

 Post subject: Cheng Cheng-Kung
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 1:17 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:45 pm
Posts: 99
Location: Dhaka, Bangladesh
I read with interest about Cheng Cheng-Kung, who is truly an amazing bonsai artist. An extremely gifted and talented aritst. After having viewed his gallery..........I was overwhelmed by his creations.
Simply great work and undoubtedly one of the finest bonsai artist of the present times.

Thanks to AoB for posting and we look forward to read and see more about other new artists from worldwide.


P.S.: Paul, there is a technical problem at the Gallery of Cheng Cheng-Kung. When I clicked the icon for 'Discuss this Gallery' some other page appears. Kindly check with your webmaster and correct it. Thanks.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 4:23 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2005 2:11 am
Posts: 6469
Location: Michigan USA
Paul is our webmaster, thanks for the heads up, I'm sure he'll correct this soon.


 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 6:52 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2005 8:51 pm
Posts: 1442
Location: WI, USA
Thanks for the heads up Shaukat!
All fixed.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 5:13 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 6:16 am
Posts: 89
I saw Cheng Cheng-Kung the first time at WBC in Munich, 2001. It was a great experience to see Cheng work, doing his famous carving. I appreciate much later to receive the two books of carving SiDiao techniques from Cheng. Mr. Cheng is a very kind and gifted bonsai teacher and artist, and his humble approach to bonsai we all can learn from. And the works of Cheng is simply to be admired, and studied over and over again. With much respect and gratitude ? Morten Albek.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 10:36 pm 

Joined: Mon May 08, 2006 9:35 am
Posts: 731
Location: Southwest Florida,US
Cheng's technique of aging treematerial is one of the most innovative carving approaches that I have ever seen revealed to such an extent.
I had the honor to see Cheng at the GSBF convention last year in Anaheim.Watching him prepairing his tools was already a treat.I bought his books and approached him for signing them.He asked me to wait until after the presentation so he would have more time.After the presentation he took a special pen and personalized his signing.He is so very polite!
His si-diao technique is very elaborate and consumes a lot of time,but the results are sure worth the effort.The books(esp.Part one) are absolutely important to any serious bonsaiist.They will show the correct use of Cheng's customized tools (available),design aspects and cultivation techniquesfor tropicals(Part two).
Unfortunately both books are not translated yet,however the numerous
pictures are selfexplanatory.
Florida will have the honor to present Cheng Cheng Kung at the Florida State Convention in 2008 in Fort Myers as one of the headliners.
Best regards,
Dorothy Schmitz

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 4:35 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:45 pm
Posts: 99
Location: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Thanks, Paul, for fixing up the tech problem.

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