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 Post subject: Profile: Enrico Savini
PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2006 9:20 am 
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Location: Michigan USA
Profile: Enrico Savini
Image
Enrico working on a Suber

Enrico Savini is a well known bonsaist from Monteveglio, Italy who contributes greatly to the local bonsai scene. He won the 2003 Ben Oki International Design Award with a remarkable Juniperus Chinensis and gives classes, demonstrations and holds workshops both on the road and at his Progetto Futuro Bonsai School in Monteveglio.

The following is an on-line interview conducted with Enrico Savini:


AoB: The Italian bonsai scene seems to have taken the world by storm, in the last few years. To what do you attribute this amazing success?

Enrico: The persistent growth of the Italian bonsai scene depends on various factors. The technique has arrived to its peaks, due to a steady "put oneself at stake" and a constant personal "research" of every artist. Italians never missed a certain grade of creativity, but only by joining to this the learning and applying of techniques, we can be able to "create", in the strict sense of the word.

A great contribution to that process is provided by UBI national association, the strongest in Europe.


AoB: The truly great trees coming out of Italy seem, mostly, to be Junipers. Do you prefer working with Asian Juniper species or your local Juniperus sabina?

Enrico: Not only Junipers, but even Pines, Yews, Oaks, Olives, etc. I love all the good plants, even if I had to find a Juniper coming from Mars, if you understand what I mean? Japanese plants have indeed taught us a lot, and on these plants we have seen and learned techniques applied on them for decades, what better teacher!

I prefer, though, our local squama(scale?) such as Juniper species, the Juniperus Sabina that grows on our Alps and the Juniperus Phoeniceae growing in some coastal zones.


AoB: In America and in many countries in Europe collectors of trees are frowned upon. It is considered almost 'unethical' to purchase very good trees and show them, even if one clearly has worked on them personally. What is the situation in Italy?

Enrico: "eh,eh" the world's a little village!!!
You should base yourself on an assumption, that is: collecting trees is forbidden. A professional artist can't allow himself such risk! Many years ago, I did it myself, as for now, I buy and exchange both "raw" and "prepared" materials, so to either refine or restyle them completely. Anyone has its own ideas, but how many people can really finish or re-examine an important specimen?

In the bonsai field there's a lot of envy, a very "negative" one and something that really brings to a standstill the personal growth. I'd rather point just one thing out: "Why don't we just stop wasting time talking about it and instead try to work and wire"!

I always advise my students to think about one thing "Does Kimura collect his trees himself"?


AoB: You were the 2003 Winner of the Ben Oki International Design Award with your Juniperus Chinensis, Did this take you by surprise and what advice would give others who may be thinking of entering?

Enrico: Yes, it was a great satisfaction that I still remember with joy'surely, triggered something. Yet, I treat every success as a starting point and every failure as a new challenge to put myself at stake on.
My advice is not to rush. Everybody should prepare patiently his own tree, paying special attention to the finishing touch and to the "detail", and only at this point submit his own work to the final judgment, you can't always win, but a good tree will always be remembered.

Image
Tosho: Japanese Needle Juniper (Juniperus rigida)



AoB: You have come a very long way in the art of bonsai in a short time, what would you say was the leading contributing factor to this quick pace?

Enrico: I don't think there's a moment that stands out in my career. I fell in love with bonsai when I was just 10, a child like many others, stubborn and thirsty for knowledge, born and grown in the green of the Bolognese hills? I wanted to learn doing bonsai in the strict sense of the word. There were only a few bonsai centers at the time and only a small number of pioneers? Yes, maybe the moment I remember more frequently, is when my dear granny brought me to buy my first bonsai, it was a Prunus mume and it survived only a few months, a tragedy!!!

I couldn't forgive myself for that failure, so I took it as a personal challenge, my entire career has been a continuous personal challenge. I always need new goals and when I don't have anymore I will then hang my nippers... ehm... my boots. (purtroppo non esiste appendere al chiodo in inglese, quindi puoi renderlo con hang my boots e lo scherzetto verbale!!! Fa tu!)


AoB: What do you envision the art of bonsai in Italy will be like in the next ten years?

Enrico: I'm not a prophet, but I'm really delighted in seeing a lot of young people approaching bonsai with strong enthusiasm and this makes me hope all the best for the future, I guess there will soon be a generational turnover. There are young people "developing" really fast and I can firmly state that lots of students in the four Italian recognized schools can already handle a technique that is more advanced than many of their teachers, and this is a very good sign!


AoB: Can you list any names of bonsai artists or teachers who contributed the most to your growth as an artist. What are the most important things that you've learned from them?

Enrico: I'm grateful to everybody. I've learned something important from each bonsai artist, both on a technical level and on a cultivation level? I'm also learning a great deal from my students now, there's always something you must stop and think about, from the smaller things to the more little ones.


AoB: Do you believe that bonsai competitions are the best way to display and promote the art of bonsai? Or you would rather prefer showing bonsai to the public in a non-competitive manner?

Enrico: I believe that a "genuine competition" is basic in bonsai, as well as in every other discipline. And, let's be honest, who doesn't appreciate receiving recognition?!


AoB: Does the establishment of a graduate course, specializing in bonsai, there in Italy, have a positive effect on the state of Italian bonsai, in your view?

Enrico: Anything that aims at the diffusion of bonsai is important, even if it comes from different ways of thinking.


AoB: The growth of bonsai in Italy appears to have been very well planned. Is this the case? What pointers would you give to enthusiasts in countries where the bonsai clubs and societies are less organized?

Enrico: Well, it is not all roses in Italy either, to be honest, surely, Italian UBI-recognized schools are working very well and you can truly perceive it in the quality of the trees they show every year and in the qualification of the students belonging to them!

It's not simple, though, to say just in a few words how a country should organize itself. It's a long process that must be carried out step by step. Motivations need to be the roots of the process; beside, willingness to learn and sacrifice, and a significant role in this must be played by the associations and cooperation.


AoB: It is noticeable that many fine specimens being shown by Italian bonsai artists have been imported from Eastern Asian countries. What are your views on this practice?

Enrico: This is hard to say. The artistic and technical levels we've reached are certainly really high, but we must still work much more on the role of PREPARATION and CULTIVATION in bonsai art , alas, in those fields, we are decades behind Japan and Korea. As for China, I don't feel they are at a very high technical level now.


AoB: Do you think bonsai in the West will ever surpass its Japanese and Chinese ancestors?

Enrico: I see in Europe very valuable materials, but they are often poorly, if at all, finished. I feel a bit puzzled when I hear European artists speak about a "natural aspect"? if so, it would be useless to work on a tree! It would be sufficient to put it into a pot like Mother Nature conceived it, don't you think so!

The extreme care in wiring, in spaces, in optical distraction, simulation and dissimulation, are in Italy recurring and meaningful themes. It's the detail that makes the difference and often just a barely visible rotation of the front changes deeply the tree's aspect, we must consider this and think about it.

Image
Sabrina Juniper (Juniperus sabina )



AoB: The centre of Italian bonsai seems to be around Milan. Are there other areas in Italy where it is growing in popularity and skill level, that we don't know about yet?

Enrico: There are four recognized schools in Italy, two of them in Milan, mine close to Bologna and another one close to Rome, but nevertheless, there are many excellent instructors all over Italy. I'm thinking about Alfiero Suardi in Marche, Zino Rongo in Puglia, just to make a few examples?

It depends a lot on how you prefer to work. I mean, many of my colleagues prefer to go around the world, I prefer working in my own house, with my two detachments, one in Milan, one in Campania?

And don't forget Sicily, where there are several young people with potential rosy prospects!

Milan gathers a lot, but there's not only Milan!


AoB: What piece of indispensable advice would you offer to people new to bonsai?

Enrico: See, I think I can give a very useful answer to that question, because my school really gathers a lot of youngsters and new practitioners, you have to consider that doing bonsai only as self-taught allows you to reach just a certain level. So, the advice I would more firmly give is to look for a high quality school, a school led by people that don't do this job just for business, but more look at it as a 'mission'. Bonsai starts from personal sacrifice and instructors first of all should demonstrate it, with big humility and by putting themselves at the same level of who is learning.

So, look for people that technically really know their stuff, but that also demonstrate to be humanly and ethically correct, you have to entrust your learning, your "bonsai-do" to these kind of people, give always a look around you, observe carefully before deciding and try to catch with your eyes whilst observing, "hands, mind and heart"?.

This interview has been a true pleasure. I'm a pro-American and I like to relate myself to others. I never wriggle out of anybody's questions and I am a very easygoing person. Just be patient, because I'm trying to improve my English, but it's not perfect yet!!! (By the way, thanks to Sonia Bartozzi, a very good student of mine as well as my personal translator).


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