'Vision Of My Soul'
by Robert Steven
Suprindo Offset Printing - Indonesia: 166 pp., $50.00
Limited edition of 1,500
Reviewed by Will Heath*
My first thought upon receiving this book was that there was no way the content could compare with the fantastic presentation portrayed by the hand bound cover, the inlaid silver leaf, and the overall artistic feel of the edition. To my delight, I was wrong.
This book comes across as art, it feels like art, you'll feel protective of the cover and you'll be reluctant to set it on anything that may harm the surface. Once you open the pages you'll see that Robert Steven has done a remarkable job, creating a work that will long be remembered as a classic, for bonsai enthusiasts. This is not your basic pot, clip, wire and grow book, in fact there is very little cultivation subject matter at all. This, my friends, is a book about art, particularly art in bonsai.
Robert begins his book with discussion of art as it pertains to bonsai. He guides us through the basics of perspective, balance, harmony and other aspects of design. His section on group and forest plantings contain some of the most coherent thoughts on this subject that I have ever read and unlike many others, his examples in the book speak volumes toward practicing what one preaches.
The remainder of the book is used to beautifully portray not only some of Robert's best creations but also some that are flawed. Both are used as examples, to explain the artistic goals and the sometimes failure thereof. Robert boldly posts his best work explaining how and why it succeeds and his flawed work, also explaining why it fails.
Robert also provides us with remarkable sketches of thoughts and plans for the future of many of the bonsai shown. The book has many professional color photographs laid out in a flowing, easy to absorb manner. He truly appears to have put his heart and soul into this work.
I would highly recommend this book to both the serious artist and to those who hold the belief that bonsai is a mere craft or hobby, as exposure to such a work just may bring them on the right path.
Very high production values, and visually stunning. You won't want to open it, lest you leave fingerprints on the color plates.
* About Will Heath
**Photographs used with permission by Robert Steven.