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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 1:03 pm 
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John,
"Whatever happened to youth? The pure freshness, vigor, innocence, unmarred beauty of youth has escaped us as bonsai artists."
Was actually wrote by myself. I have learned a lot since writing the article above, but I still perceive that youth is prejudiced against, maybe there are no stories to be told of youth?

Will


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 Post subject: Paid the dues
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 2:10 pm 
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Unlike the "Gentlemen's Club" thread where I had absolutely nothing of substance to bring to the think tank, in this case I think (hope) I do. To me it boils down to vanity. The thoughts below are how I view bonsai.
As we attain knowledge and experience in life, I believe we relate the same attributes to bonsai. When we see an "aged" tree with jin/shari and all types of subtle nuances that imply successful struggles through tribulation, we have profound respect for the owner of those healed wounds. I remember when I was in the Army and first got my uniform. I was so proud Of my "Expert" rifleman badge, my E-3 stripes and that first ribbon. Then I stand in front of my Sergeant Major wearing his Class A's with a Combat Infantryman's Badge, Air Assault Wings, Combat jump wings, Canadian jump wings, an absolute chest full of "fruit salad" (these are his ribbons) including a Silver Star, a Ranger tab, a Special Forces tab, and the all important 101st Airborne "Screaming Eagle" patch on his "right" shoulder, I was in AWE. No other word explains it. I was in the presence of a Warrior's Warrior. Wow. Then I look at my pitiful example of a uniform and realize how little I had accomplished. Humbled, to say the least.
Now here I was an eighteen year old with about 4% body fat (wish I could still say that) could run all day, do push-ups in my sleep, and basically complete any physical challenge you could dream up. On the other hand, the Sgt. Major was probably over 40 with ailments from (likely) being wounded in action and no where near as mobile. Yes I had the youthful energy and vigor, but I was NOTHING compared to him. Later in my Army days when I had a little of the "fruit salad", a couple of sets of wings, and a 101st patch on my shoulder, I started to get a little "respect" myself. The feeling was an absolute overload of my senses!!! I wish I could describe it in words.
Now when I see a bonsai, I can appreciate the "vigor" of the younger stock, but it is woefully second to the "respect" the ancient ones invoke with their mere presence. They command my respect. John Quinn makes an outstanding point about the beauty of fresh new growth on decidious species, and the eye-catching color of blossoms on those that flower. It is almost like having the best of both, the "respect and awe" of the old and the "vigor" of the young.
If asked to pick just one though, I have to go with old. The stories those bonsai can (and do) tell are just irresistable to me.
Great thread Will.
Best regards,
John


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 Post subject: Re: Paid the dues
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 4:17 pm 
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John Dixon wrote:
Now when I see a bonsai, I can appreciate the "vigor" of the younger stock, but it is woefully second to the "respect" the ancient ones invoke with their mere presence

John,
Beautiful point you've made with the example from the army (looks like you can make ANY point, using examples from the army...just kidding).
But here is another example from life.
The other day I was out in my backyard, it was a beautiful morning, with sunshine and the fresh green lawn. And my two year-old son was out there, playing with my black shaggy dog. They were chasing each other and rolling in the grass. As I watched them, it almost brought tears in my eyes, it was so beautiful, all that youth, happiness, and innocence.
It wasn't awe-inspiring, respect-commanding, it was just incredibly beautiful. A different kind of beauty from what you've described.
Was this beauty inferior to the ruggedness of old age?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 6:29 pm 
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A child is not youth-though beautiful.Similarly a seedling(child) or a sapling / whip(youth) is a potensai not bonsai though both could be beautiful and have their own place.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 8:35 pm 
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Quote:
No matter how old and gnarly, the flush of spring growth on old wood is especially welcome and poignant.

Absolutely. That is where I see youth in bonsai, too.
Where young trees are concerned, I see too many of them, brought in by beginners, or by those who never seem to get past that stage. Somehow, the advice given by clubs, or in chapters dealing with "How to choose bonsai material", doesn't register. So I've been "conditioned" against growing youthful bonsai.
Lisa


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 4:48 am 
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Quote:
No matter how old and gnarly, the flush of spring growth on old wood is especially welcome and poignant.
?Absolutely. That is where I see youth in bonsai, too-??LISA

Fine thinking!
To me it is sign of life .
This phase is mandatory in the life cycle of an alive bonsai whether one wants it or not!
There is nothing at this phase for a bonsai artist to proclaim that he/she has achieved something by artistic skill.
It is beyond me to fathom the hullabaloo about youth/spring growth as unique bonsai design concept.
Isn?t there a difference among HACHIUYE, KUSAMONO AND BONSAI?
If young, juvenile growth and green sprouting seedlings (though beautiful in their own right) are passed on as bonsai art so be it for the sake of artistic freedom and instant bonsai culture
.
Let me gear-up for the antics of modern antique, recent heritage, samba ballet & juvenile bonsai?..


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 9:05 am 
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Not totally unexpected the opinions reflect the general notion of bonsai.
In the old classical and new classical school or style bonsai is about the ideal tree, the ultimate tree. This is clearly an adult, majestic, old tree.
In the modern school or style bonsai is about the extreme tree, the overpowering tree. This again is an adult tree, of course. Probably even more so than in the classical style.
In the naturalistic school or style bonsai is about a realistic tree. Now this can be any good or at least interesting looking tree. It can well be a youngish tree if that looks good.
One should not be surprised that the adherants of the old and new classical style as well as the modern style find it strange to use a youngish image for bonsai.
And it is to be expected that all those whose aproach to bonsai is much more liberal find it refreshing.
Walter


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 12:04 pm 
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Just to set something clear.
Nobody here is advocating that a twig in a pot or a seedling should be passed as bonsai just because it has its own beauty. That would be idiocy.
The first tree shown in the original article is not a twig. It shows signs of youth and lightness characteristic to youth, but it is not a seedling. It represents a fully grown, mature tree.
This is the youth which in my opinion may have a place in bonsai art.
We are not talking about seedlings or sprouts here. We are talking about a tree that is approaching maturity and it is still in the growing phase versus a tree that is very old and is in the declining phase of life. In my opinion, both can be artistically represented, although the younger looking one is a greater challenge and runs the risk of looking too immature and uninteresting.
The key words here are young-ish looking versus ancient looking. So, let's not talk about seedlings, twigs, and other nonsense.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2005 4:08 pm 
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Whatever happened to youth? The pure freshness, vigor, innocence, unmarred beauty of youth has escaped us as bonsai artists. Is there no beauty in a sapling reaching up in perfect health towards the life giving sun? Is there no merit in unscarred bark, thinly laced roots, leaves fresh and green with new birth? Is there no tales to tell of seedlings exploding with energy, of saplings being whipped by the wind, of the blank slate that youth so well represents??WILL HEATH
The key words here are young-ish looking versus ancient looking. So, let's not talk about seedlings, twigs, and other nonsense.-
ATTILA SOOS
!?!?!?WHICH ONE!?!?!?


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2005 4:44 pm 
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?In the naturalistic school or style bonsai is about a realistic tree. Now this can be any good or at least interesting looking tree. It can well be a youngish tree if that looks good.?-WALTER.
Now does naturalistic school any different in spirit than
CHINESE PENJING of LINGNAN SCHOOL
?
This is what i find in one oftheir sites. :-- Lingnan school - Formed in Guangdong province, the theory advocates that a plant looks best when all the leaves are plucked and the whole plant trimmed before the new sprouts appear; showing age-old strength and twigs looking like the claws of a chicken, the branches of the tree will exhibit beautiful outline and graceful style. This is called the Lingnan School. There are no fixed rules on forming the shape of the plant; it all depends on the natural qualities and the trainer's thoughtfulness, technique and talent. "


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2005 4:59 pm 
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'Now does naturalistic school any different in spirit than
CHINESE PENJING of LINGNAN SCHOOL?'
Soumya,
the spirit is similar, but not the same.
For the modern and postmodern styles, bonsai is not anymore an Asian artform. Therefore it is only of limited value to find citations about Asian art. The essence of the artform is defined by the artist himself in an art. In a craft someone else tells the 'artist' what the essence has to be.
For me the only thing that matters is that a bonsai has a soul and speaks clear and loud or subtle, but SPEAKS. As long as it does this it is good. Regardless of whether someone was following some rules or not. If a tree that was styled totally according to some ruels does nto speak because it has not soul it is just not good.
There is only one rule in bonsai really :The tree has to have a soul and speak.
So if a youngish tree speaks to me it is art. If it speaks very strongly to me it is great art.
The tree with a soul will always speak. Whether this is heard by someone is a different matter. It depends on the backgrond and experience of the listener. You can also call it taste. A person with a strict traditional taste will have great problems with anything that does not care about craft rules.
Walter


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2005 10:13 pm 
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Soumya Mitra wrote:
!?!?!?WHICH ONE!?!?!?

Soumya,
It is one thing to suggest the beauty of "a seedling exploding with energy" in a bonsai or a miniature landscape, and it is another thing to plant a seedling in a bonsai pot and call it a bonsai, ...dont you think? There is a big difference between the two.
Therein lies the challenge.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 6:50 am 
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The spirit is similar, but not the same-Walter.
HOW IT IS SO IS NOT CLEAR TO ME.
The Lingan spirit as I understood is the rule-free styling /designing of bonsai based on the artist?s vision & the tree character.
It does not follow any set rule of branch or foliage placement like the Japanese codified in the styles that we find in their bonsai books.
They did refining of the Chinese art from their view point, beauty & horticultural developments including plant species native to Japan. They also did it from strong nationalistic spirit to usurp the art form as made in Japan.
Where as West learned bonsai from Japan YET bonsai is not only Japanese and it was never so in China atleast.
Their 2000+years of bonsai practices produced multiple approach to bonsai designing. That long & very individualistic nature
of bonsai art practice has hardly left any scope of significantly
new style creation.
If one claims so it can only be old wine in new bollte in new name for new customer.
Yes, few new style did come up outside China and Japan such as Tropical banyan, African flat-top, American bald cypress & Red mangrove, Grape stumps, etc.
But these are based more on typical plant character rather than any artistic considerations.
?For the modern and postmodern styles, bonsai is not anymore an Asian art form. Therefore it is only of limited value to find citations about Asian art.?- Walter.
I find this as zymotic logic. It presupposes modernity/ post modernity in bonsai is necessarily non-Asian or pan western.. This sectarian mindset of denouncing oriental heritage may lead to artistic imperialism and contrary to the secular art .However, classical styles does have distinct Japanese flavor but Lingnan don?t. It gives such freedom to an artist that the artist cannot be labeled as of any other style NATURALLY.
?There is only one rule in bonsai really: The tree has to have a soul and speak?-Walter.
Very profound ?and agree in Toto.
Study the lingan specimens the trees speak volume. Similarly good art of any style do communicate to the viewers some universal sentiment that is not culture specific e.g. . . .? Madonna with baby CHRIST?, Rodin? s ?Thinking man? or Chaplin?s bicycle thief??.
So naturalistic/ realistic etc labels are not the lingua franca of a new bonsai concept- but sign motif of clever marketing of old wine in tetra pack!.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 9:04 am 
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This is painfully close to being a matter of salemanship. Can you "sell" the idea to others?
While it is obvious that some people possess a high degree of ...well.....manipulation, the "goods" have to have attributes that speak for themselves. To put this in a simple context, it's like trying to convince a man looking for a high performance sports car that a Honda Hybrid is what he is wants. While a fine car if fuel economy is what you need, it won't exactly impress you with 0-60 times. Hence, all the salesmanship in the world won't help AFTER the test drive.
Bonsai is very similar, at least to me. You can tout the gifts of any artist, style, species, or show, but if I look at the bonsai and it doesn't SPEAK to me, nothing else matters. It has to be able to "sell" itself. In the matter of younger specimens, I feel that they have the same opportunity to do this, but they usually fail. When they are successful, they are almost always in a shohin or small size (big surprise, huh?), but I certainly remain open to any bonsai that can change my view.
When you see this with young material, you have witnessed what a real "talented" artist can do.
Good morning to all,
John


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 2:33 pm 
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When you see this with young material, you have witnessed what a real "talented" artist can do.-JOHN
Yes ,i see here how one work of an otherwise talented artist can mislead others. Clever marketing indeed.
BTW i don't find an artist like Picasso or Dali ever had to hawk their work as cubist styled specimen or surrealist styled specimen.The art critics and posterity did that.Whereas in case of Naturalistic style the champion of the style is the style initiator & not being aware that the enterprise reminds of rediscoveryof wheels marketed as disc.
True talented work speaks for itself without any trumpeting . Artistic posturing is anti bonsai spirit.
And lastly the all very green photoshoped foliage is just sign of life which a bonsai is about.
A truly young image of a truly young material is just a transient phase of bonsai life continuum. Nothing more or nothing less.


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