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 Post subject: Profile: Marco Invernizzi
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 9:08 am 
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Profile: Marco Invernizzi
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Photograph by Walter Pall
When developing this profile on Marco, the staff at AoB found themselves hard pressed to narrow his accomplishments down into a brief summary as there have been so many. Marco travels all over the world teaching bonsai, his energy and love of the art is obvious to all who meet him, his talent and drive has lead him to don many great things for the bonsai community, how could we possibly condense so much into a brief paragraph or two?

The solution came from Marco himself in the form of a "time-line" of his bonsai history, presented here in place of the usual bio.

1975. Born in Milan, Italy
1982. Joined the Boy Scout Group, which continued for 15 years.
1989. Started the Art High School "Istituto d'Arte Beato Angelico" in Milan. This private school is well renowned all over the world as the school where some of the most famous Italian architects, like Mario Botta, started their learning path.
1991. Started the interest in Bonsai studying with Salvatore Liporace, world-renowned bonsai artist who lives and works in Milan. He continued to work with him almost every day for the next 5 years helping him in the daily work at his nursery. As well as assisted him during demonstrations and workshops all over Europe.
1992. Obtained a Degree in Master of Art at the "Istituto d'Arte Beato Angelico".
1993. Travel for the first time to Japan for a study trip of 2 weeks and he met for the first time his future Japanese Master Masahiko Kimura.
1994. Received High School Degree in Architecture at the "Istituto d'Arte Beato Angelico".
Started college at the "Accademia di Comunicazione", second best design school of Europe.
Started to collaborate with the most important bonsai magazines of Europe, and in 15 years of carrier his article have been published all over the world.
1995. Selected by the Italian Bonsai Association as its national representative for the first New European Talent Competition.
Second study trip to Japan.
Place himself third at the Best Italian Bonsai Demonstrators Competition.
Started to work part time in 2 nurseries in Italy as Bonsai Consultant.
1996. Demonstrator at the Italian Bonsai Congress
1997. Obtained College degree in Design with Master in Graphic Design and Industrial Design.
Started the apprentice in Japan as the first non-Japanese disciple of the most important bonsai Master of the world: Masahiko Kimura
2000. Headliner Demonstrator at the Italian Bonsai Congress witch will repeat for the next 5 years in a row, also as Art Director of the exhibition.
Started his own Bonsai importing business from Japan.
Some of the Bonsai he prepared for the Italian Bonsai Exhibition win the "Best in Show" and several "Mention of merit".He repeated this success every single year. He is the artist who won more awards in the history of the European bonsai
2001. Finished his apprentice and return to Italy where he starts his own bonsai consulting business working for private collectors, club, association and nursery all over the world.
Since 2001 he goes back to Japan 4-5 times a year to continue his learning path.
Headliner demonstrator at the Ghinko Bonsai Congress in Belgium, the most important bonsai congress of Europe. His creation wins the Best in Show.
Teaching tour in UK and Italy
2002. Headliner demonstrator at the Italian, Spanish, Czech, South African, Holland National Congress
He is selected as Guest Artist for the annual GSBF (Golden Bonsai State Federation) speaker tour in California.
Headliner demonstrator at the Brussels Rendezvous in Memphis, Tennessee
Teaching tour in UK, Italy, Spain
2003. Headliner demonstrator at the Italian, South African, Argentinean, Swiss and Polish congress.
Teaching tour in UK, Italy, California and west coast, South Africa.
Published his first book in Italian about his experience in Japan titled: "To Japan on my bonsai way". The first edition is soon sold out. He made appearance to the most important national TV, Website and Radio shows and reviews of the book have been published on over 20 national newspapers and magazines
2004. Headliner demonstrator at the European, Californian, B.C.I.( Bonsai Club International) in St.Louis, (USA) congress
Teaching tour in UK, Italy,Canada, California and West Coast and Texas.
One of his creations wins the Crespi Cup and it's the only bonsai in the history to win the 3 most important European bonsai competitions.
2005 Headliner demonstrator at the World Congress in Washington D.C., GSBF in California, Barcelona's congress (Spain),Mistral congress ( Spain) and Swedish national congress.
Teaching tour in UK, Italy, Mid-West, California and West Coast
Consulting service for Mr.Xin from Shangai, one of the best bonsai collectors of the world.
2006 Headliner demonstrator at the MidAtlantic Congress in N.Y., Noelanders Trophy in Belgium, African Congress in Cape Town (SA), B.S.A. congress in Uk ( British Shoin Association)
Teaching tour in UK, Mid-West, East Coast, California, West Coast, Mexico and Canada
Started his own bonsai school in UK.
2007 Headliner demonstrator for B.C.I congress ( Bonsai Club International) in Puerto Rico, Texas State Congress, Lodder's opeahouse in Holland and Australian national congress.
Join the "The Leone Group" as consultant designer and bonsai master
Teaching tour in UK, all over USA, Mexico, Canada, Israel
www.marcoinvernizzi.com is online.


The following is an on-line interview conducted with Marco Invernizzi:


AoB: Marco, what is your recollection of your earliest encounter with Bonsai? How did you feel about it? Was that first impression the defining moment in your pursuit of Bonsai artistry, or did it take more than that for you to get involved with it?

Marco: My fascination started when I saw Karate Kid 3. There was a scene where Miyagi Sensei explained that the sense of life is expressed through a beautiful Bonsai. I still do not know the reason why, but at that moment, I understood that Bonsai artistry was right for me and my life. I immediately decided to dedicate all my free time to little trees and become the best Bonsai Master.


AoB: We understand that you studied under Masahiko Kimura. Would you share with us what prompted you to seek out this apprenticeship, and also what it was like to study under one of the greatest Bonsai artists of our time?

Marco: I came to hear about Master Kimura at my first Bonsai lesson when my first Master, Salvatore Liporace, showed me photos of some of Master Kimura's masterpieces and I was so overwhelmed inside that I knew immediately that approach to Bonsai was what I wanted to make my own and those kinds of bonsai expressed energy that engaged me more than any other form of art I had come into contact with before.


AoB: What is the greatest lesson you learned from him?

Marco: That life is a challenge and more than anything one you have to win with yourself.

Image
Young Marco Invernizzi.


AoB: What kind of cultural differences did you experience in everyday life during the apprenticeship?

Marco: One of the first things Master Kimura asked me to do was to become Japanese, otherwise I would never have been able to learn and survive in that traditional environment. I'm Italian and that means being more or less the opposite to how a Japanese person is usually perceived. So let's say that I tried to pretend to be Japanese, I really learnt a lot but only now do I realize how deeply this effort affected me at times and I still bear the scars of it now.

Anyway I can say that the main differences weren't so much in the bowing, the food or the language but more than anything in the way of thinking. Most of the Japanese I have met are more concerned about what other people think about them rather than what they themselves think. Nothing wrong with that, but it's difficult to live it in the first person.


AoB: Did you learn to communicate in Japanese?

Marco: I arrived in Japan without knowing a word of Japanese and had to learn as much as possible in the little free time I had. I remember that the first thing I did was to gather the main words of Bonsai terminology in a little notebook - about 200 words that I learnt off by heart in a week.


AoB: We also understand that before studying with Kimura you worked under Salvatore Liporace .What is the greatest lesson you learned from him?

Marco: That there's always a way to do things better and that sometimes what people think of you is much more important than what you really are.


AoB: How much of what you learned under Kimura can you actually apply during demonstrations and teaching lessons?

Marco: Everything. Even today, six years after finishing my apprenticeship, I look at a new article by Master Kimura in some Japanese magazine and still learn a great deal from my Master. And I use everything. All the time. Even for things related to everyday life that have little to do with Bonsai. Your Master, whatever field you are in, is also and more than anything your guru and his teaching will follow you always, whatever you undertake.
Anyway, in direct answer to your question, I can say that I worked on thousands and thousands of bonsai with the Master and tried to learn something from each one of them. I've got a sort of enormous hard disk in my head with lots and lots of folders divided into different subjects and in each one of them there are thousands more files with millions of pictures. And I turn my hard disk on and open up the files every time I work on a plant, but please don't ask me to do so too early in the morning, and the only password to the programme is A GOOD ITALIAN EXPRESS COFFEE.


AoB: Do you think the demonstration material is sometimes inadequate and if so, what would be the best way of correcting this?

Marco: One thing I would ask of any Bonsai Club in the world is to forget about raffling off the tree at the end of the demonstration. This practice, that's quite common nowadays, means that the Bonsai Club usually finds it difficult stretch its budget to good quality material. As well as this they always use raw material for the demonstrations whereas it would be much more useful to teach how to improve a Bonsai that has already been set because, more often than not, after the first intervention there's still a long way to go before being able to call the material a Bonsai.


AoB: You travel around the world giving demonstrations and teaching in workshops, what would be your ideal demonstration and workshop if you had full and total control?

Marco: Workshops where everyone has the same species of material could be a good idea, but more than anything students having all the tools, sizes of wire, turntables and all the equipment they need. No-one would want to be operated on by a surgeon who only had half his instruments. Demonstrations where the public isn't kept at a distance from the Master could be another idea. Bonsai Art relies on detail; let's leave large stage sets to the actors. Demonstrations and workshops aren't shows where the Master has to prove how clever he is, they're learning opportunities in which if the audience comes away feeling that they haven't learnt anything new, they should ask for their money of the ticket back.


AoB: Italy seems to be well structured and standardized in recognizing Bonsai schools. Do you agree with this practice?

Marco: Italy is still the best country in the West for Bonsai today. We Italians are lucky, we've got so many different material on our mountains and such a lot of opportunity to collect them as well as many Bonsai centres importing very impressive Bonsai from all over Asia for more than 30 years. Even more than that, we have a really good national society headed by people who have always organized events of the highest level and given so much to their members while keeping the yearly subscription fee to little more than the price of a pizza. For the last 11 years now, the UBI (Italian Bonsai Society) has published a catalogue of its national exhibition that is still the only one of its kind distributed on a nation-wide scale in the Western world. I would invite you all to visit their site: www.ubibonsai.it .

Anyway Spain and the UK are the two countries making progress by leaps and bounds. On the one hand Spain has so much material not found anywhere else in the world, while in the UK there are some excellent artists and schools.


AoB: What do you think we need to change or develop here in the United States to achieve a similar system?

Marco: Most of the Bonsai enthusiasts I met in the USA do Bonsai as a hobby, as a means of socialising instead of as an opportunity for doing something artistic, of creating something beautiful. This is the difference. Bonsai art can be a hobby, but above all it is an Art. So what kind of there cookies will be at the Club's next meeting isn't the most important thing in the world.

I think North California is already leading the change with artists like Boon and Jim Gremel.

Image
Marco Invernizzi.


AoB: Do you find enough time to work on your personal collection? What is your favorite species and design form?

Marco: Every time I go back home to Milan, I work on my bonsai. I'm not the kind of Bonsai artist who never stops working on his own trees. Bonsai are like people: they don't react too kindly to being smothered with love. Some of you might expect my collection to be made up of really beautiful bonsai, whereas I try and keep my customers collections looking the very best they can while my own are more or less a series of challenges. Specimens that have been forgotten about, trees that were half dead or Bonsai so strange, they look surreal. Love affairs that start, love affairs that end.
My favourite species are Larch and Red Pine. Species that have both male and female sides.


AoB: We understand you have an educational Art background. Can you tell us more? How does it support the development of your design ideas?

Marco: I have 2 High School Diplomas in artistic studies and a college degree in Design, all with the highest marks and from the best schools and Academies in Italy. I was lucky. I've breathed Art since I was a child and both my parents are artists, too. I think one of the good things I can offer my students is a thorough artistic grounding. I must say that I often find myself explaining notions of aesthetics in relation to Bonsai that no-one has ever taught me and that later I realize come from drawing lessons I had at school, or mosaic lessons at High School or design lectures at University.


AoB: Bonsai contests seem to be a global phenomenon. Does competition really "generate development" ,as Masahiko Kimura states in his book? (The Bonsai Art of Kimura, p.175, last paragraph)

Marco: Yes, of course. No doubt about it. There will be both winners and losers and the losers surely deserve their title if they don't do everything they can to become winners at the next show or competition. A competition is only a chance to compare work and winning or losing isn't so important. Believe me! I've won all there was to win, more than once, and my life didn't change a bit.

And then, in the end, as I've already said, the only challenge we have to face is the one with ourselves.

One important thing I would include in competitions is an evaluation session where exhibitors can talk to the judges. A chance to ask the judges questions, ask the reasons for this and that and ask for advice on how to improve their plants.

This is fairly normal practice in the USA and I have to be honest in saying not very popular in Europe yet and I'm sure it would do some judges good as well!


AoB: Italy has achieved a very high visual and artistic level in developing Bonsai. What do you expect to see in the future?

Marco: A new generation of Bonsai artists has emerged in the last 3 years and is doing rather well and to think sometimes they're even younger than me! www.progettofuturoBonsai.it

Italy has to stay united. All Italians are artists and artists have really big egos that often split them up. And then Italians are very patriotic and nowadays everyone seems intent on working only on local specimens whereas I don't think where the material comes from is as important as whether the Bonsai is attractive and even more if you like it or not.


AoB: Marco, in your experience of applying elaborate techniques to conifers in a relatively short time, what do you think is the survival rate of the material?

Marco: It should be 100%. But we're only human so we'll leave perfection to the self-righteous.

But there's mis-information around. And magazines have their share of the blame in this. Articles often show transformations done by professional artists in just one day. Unfortunately, rarely do articles catalogue work on a tree done over 4 - 5 years and they never show the dates like the KIN BON magazine does. So enthusiasts worldwide think they can apply the same techniques in just one day and expect the plant to survive without any difficulty. It's like seeing Schumacher drive a Ferrari at 200 miles an hour and expect to be able to do the same at the wheel of any other car.

A message to Bonsai enthusiasts everywhere: examples of work you see done by professionals in magazines are only suggestions. Always ask yourselves where the work was done (Sweden and Alabama have very different climates), in what period of the year (winter in Scotland is a different proposition from summer in Sicily) and even more, don't forget that a professional has advanced levels of knowledge that aren't very likely to come over just from reading a magazine article, and these are fundamental tricks of the trade that contribute to the work's success. And maybe magazines should stop publishing INSTANT BONSAI work.

Image
Marco Invernizzi.


AoB: Do you think people are sometimes impatient especially with collected material?

Marco: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! and Yes! Why be in such a hurry? Another appeal to all Bonsai artists: please don't kill your specimens. Respect them like you would the young of any house pet. It's you that have got to learn to keep up with your material right from the time the plant is taking root, not the opposite. Nature took hundreds of years to create the beautiful specimen you've decided to collect; don't ruin it in a couple of years: it would be a waste. Yamadori in Japanese doesn't mean fire wood.


AoB: Where do you see yourself in 10 years besides on the French Riviera?

Marco: Answering questions at an interview that asks me if only 10 years earlier I would have imagined I'd be where I am now. And I don't think I'll be in France, just in case I meet someone French who's still complaining about how we beat them in the World Cup final in 2006.


AoB: Do you think Bonsai will change dramatically in the next decade or so?

Marco: For the worse. Bonsai artistry is already in a state of crisis in Japan. The Nippon Bonsai Association has seen the number of its members drop radically over the last 10 years, you're starting to see the same old famous bonsai over and over again at the major exhibitions. I've been going to auctions for years and I think the Japanese market has come to a standstill as never before. Mind you, this isn't a criticism, just something to think about. It's a generation problem caused by the fact that it's always been people of a certain age doing Bonsai in Japan and as time goes by, these people die or can't do Bonsai any more but the younger generations certainly don't seem interested in Bonsai Art at the moment. Nowadays the most sought-after Bonsai in Japan are "chuin" and 'shoin', the only kinds that can be moved around easily by older people. After me 6 more young people from the West were taken on as disciples in the most significant Bonsai gardens in Japan partly because there are so few young Japanese people interested in Bonsai, mostly sons of other Masters whose choice has been highly influenced by the family. In the Western world the level of Bonsai Art is rising rapidly but the number of enthusiasts drops drastically year after year. We have to work on bringing a popular image of Bonsai back to the hundreds of millions of people over the world who still think Bonsai are little trees tortured by sadistic Karate masters.


AoB: The Internet has recently been expanding the knowledge of Bonsai greatly; how do you feel it fares against the traditional press and do you see it damaging or helping the magazines currently on sale?

Marco: You can't learn Bonsai Art over the Internet but you can find a lot of gossip about it and who does what and anyone with a computer to hand seems to become a Master, especially with the help of Photoshop. But anyway Internet is doing a lot of good for Bonsai; more and more people get to know about our Art if they've got access to a computer. The standard of the magazines is rising considerably, too; BONSAI EUROPE is really making a difference and I like BONSAI ART in Germany and BONSAI PASSION in Spain, too.


AoB: What have you seen that excites you on the Internet recently?

Marco: www.tallblondes.com.on but
www.marcoinvernizzi.com . does its bit too. Check it out!


AoB: Bonsai is quickly being recognized as the art form it is in America, something that other countries have long known. What would you say is the reason Bonsai in America is slow to catch up in this regard?

Marco: See answer n.7


AoB: In the Bonsai community an issue that is hotly debated is the thought that a Bonsai should be visually appealing from all sides, what are your thoughts on this?

Marco: Of course, like a beautiful woman. But did anyone ever ask Michelangelo if his "Piet" should look good from behind and from the side as well?


AoB: Do you think Bonsai will ever be displayed like statues where a viewer can walk around the piece rather than, as it is common now, like a painting up against the wall? But then the accent plant has to follow you too.

Marco: Answer forthcoming...


AoB: Walter Pall has recently had his Bonsai displayed in a fine art environment, the Terminus Galerie in Munich, Germany, where they were displayed as art and viewed by contemporary artists and critics alike. Do you see Bonsai becoming accepted as a valid art form and display in such environments becoming more common?

Marco: I'd like that a lot but even the best-known art critic will come out with the question "Are they alive"? and if it's a woman: "Poor things, to me they all look so chained up in those wires!" Bonsai might benefit from being in art galleries but more than that from some Hollywood star who takes up Bonsai. Bonsai has to become trendy.


AoB: Which brings to mind other hotly debated subjects, is Bonsai really an art form or just a craft?

Marco: In the last 100 years Art has lost every definition it ever had. Contemporary art proves that. It seems to me we're a hundred years late asking that question. I call it Art.


AoB: Can anyone create masterful Bonsai with just technique or is talent required? What are your thoughts on these subjects?

Marco: A close friend of mine told me one day that to be successful in life, you had to have three virtues:

1) talent. You?re born with it, you die from it. But you can nurture it. You must!

2) constant sacrifice. It's no good just making a sacrifice once, you have to do it every time it's required and if you wait for someone to ask you to, you'll never get anywhere.

3) good luck. You don't get far without it.

In life as with Bonsai. I became a Bonsai Master because I've always lived with these 3 virtues, and my creations reflect this philosophy of mine.


AoB: If you could teach aspiring artists just one thing , what would that be?

Marco: Forget your ego. Don't forget that you are in business.

Image
Bonsai by Marco Invernizzi.


AoB: Who's the best Bonsai Master in the world?

Marco: Hard to believe a woman: Mother Nature.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 3:40 pm 
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Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2007 12:37 am
Posts: 9
Location: Victoria BC Canada
Thank you Marco and AoB.
I have had the pleasure of working with Marco twice. The second time reassured how I felt the first time; Marco is one of the finest western bonsai artists I have had the pleasure to work with.
His comment about bonsai artists being professionals and checking their ego was interesting. I am far from a professional so is it ok to feel pride when a bonsai of mine is admired? I like it when my ego is stroked. When people ask why bonsai, one of my many responses is to say it is good for the ego. When in the company of a teacher of the quality of Marco, humility is all I can feel.
I look forward to working with Marco again; he is a young man in Bonsai so the opportunity will be there in the future.
Ciao


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:11 pm 
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Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2007 8:30 pm
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?Poor things, to me they all look so chained up in those wires!?

My club was displaying at state fair in Raleigh. Usually a club member was present to answer questions, water trees, etc. When a fellow club member was there the day before me, he told me about a woman who berated him for close to 40 minutes about his torturing these poor little trees. He kept trying to reason that they needed air flow for health and that, with good care, they could outlive similar trees in the wild who didn't have someone removing Spider Mites, Aphids, etc. Finally he just pointed out that by her reasoning she shouldn't cut her lawn, since that would be torturing the grass.
Great interview. I like what I have seen in 2-D of Marco's art. Hopefully I'll be able to catch him next time he comes state side.


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