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 Post subject: Re: Classical Bonsai Award at 1st National Bonsai Exhibition
PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:50 pm 
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Hello,

I would like to thank Peter Warren for is text, but also every one for this discussion. I mean : thanks to all who think that to clear and write positions and arguments is a good way to create bonsai as an art.

I feel that the discussion often presuppose bonsai is an art and that this means something clear. That is why I really appreciate PW's text : it is not a justification of a decision by quantified criterions (which I dont think is to ask here), but an explanation of a way to consider bonsai as an art. That way is not obvious and is not the only one, but every way has to be constructed and clarifed.

In that regard, the fact that PW writes very well (even if I am french I can see that!) is not unrelated to the central issue. It is not a good thing that we could appreciate apart of the discussion. It helps to construct an artistic view that is also a philosophical position. How to state a judgment in that matter if we dont construct the judgment? A "criterion" like "best classical bonsai" doesn't seem enough to me in that regard. We must construct a precise way of jugement that goes far away from the definition of classical. In that regerd, I fell that the subsequent justification Peter Warren gave us is not the point (but I think his text was clear enough) : we cant rush to judge as if we had to evaluate something with presupposed criterions.

So, criterions are not the point and never are in arts. If we want to consider bonsai as an art (which is not the only way to think of it), we must think of criterion as a problem. Maybe we have to escape from this question and think of principles without trying to quantify or even put them in order. By the way, it seems strange that bonsai community should have established criterions to discuss artistic values, while (almost?) not any artistic community felt that way in the past.

So, I appreciated this very good explanation of an artistic and philosophical way of thinking, which I would not sum up as "japonese". But other ones would be and are also interesting. This discussion (to confront way of consider bonsai as an art an a culture) is more interesting that to discuss a contest result (which though could be a good opportunity). Since to criticise a judgment in that matter presuppose many things (that criterions must be defined, that they are universal, that a contest is like an exam or is a personnal decision by some people...).

So, let continue the discussion! (and please forgive my english...)


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 Post subject: Re: Classical Bonsai Award at 1st National Bonsai Exhibition
PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 9:22 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 11:20 am
Posts: 76
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Firstly, my sincere congratulations to Mr. Mike for his much deserved awards in the contest at this forum site, and at the National exhibition...I have long been an admirer of his work as a true 'artist' in the field of bonsai, rather than just a good 'craftsman', which he also is...In my opinion, as long as we insist on rules, guidelines, and criteria, by which to appreciate the art of bonsai, it shall always remain a craft rather than an art...Mr. Mike, and a few others have been bold enough to step outside 'tradition' and create genuine works of 'art' for us to enjoy, however, one can only truly enjoy and appreciate these works as 'art' if they are able to remove themselves mentally from the restraints placed by the craftsmanship of bonsai...

Great art is not great as a result of how closely it follows certain restrictions, or how closely it resembles the work or teachings of previous practioners...Truly great art is such because of the emotion it evokes in the viewer, not a result of adherence to 'standards'...Phrases such as "makes the viewer hear the wind blowing through the branches", "has inner beauty rather than external", and "more than what can be seen in front of one’s eyes", are precisely the type of characteristics which distinguish 'artistry' from 'craftsmanship'...

Thanks to Mr. Peter for sharing thoughts on the judging process for this award, and to all for this discussion...I am truly enjoying this...

Regards
Behr

XXX


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 Post subject: Re: Classical Bonsai Award at 1st National Bonsai Exhibition
PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:29 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2005 8:04 pm
Posts: 244
Location: South San Francisco, CA
Thank you Mr. Behr.

My Best Regards

Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Classical Bonsai Award at 1st National Bonsai Exhibition
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 5:32 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:16 pm
Posts: 22
Location: Bangalore India
It was a very good experience to read through the heated discussion on this topic. My views are as follows. I'd begin by quoting an ancient poem in Hindi which when roughly translated into English goes as follows:

Where is the need to refine a beautiful face
Even in simplicity can be colossal charm


This I would dedicate it to

Peter Warren for such profound insights into Bonsai viewing and to
Mike Page for not just winning the award but for courageously braving the aftermath!

For all those who disagreed about the choice of the award this is what I've got to say

For starters the award was not for the best contemporary(American or otherwise) bonsai, nor was it for the best classical(American or otherwise) bonsai. It was for the best Classical Bonsai the way Yoshimira would have created/appreciated. As the master is no more, it is perfectly safe to entrust the matter to the judges who have had a long association with the master. Both Peter Warren and Bill Valavanis have had that honor. Hence I would feel it safe to accept the verdict wholeheartedly and with an open mind rather than subject oneself and Mike's tree to such a treatment.


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 Post subject: Re: Classical Bonsai Award at 1st National Bonsai Exhibition
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 6:01 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 12:20 pm
Posts: 494
Location: south of Munich, Germany
A couple of days ago Mr. Morimae spent a day with me. At one occasion I dared to raise the subject of this tree and award. I explained to him that when this tree was entered for the AOB photo contest as editor I saw the necessity to refuse it because of lack of quality for this contest. Anyway from the picture submitted I had the impression that it was raw material, very poor raw material. I was not alone with my judgement. It was not removed because at this point in time we had very few entries. So I asked, how in the world could this tree make it to Rochester and even win an award. Well, as far as I can see it came to Rochester, because Bill wanted it there. I can only assume that he had seen this tree in person at some occasion and had not made his judgement from the photograph. Otherwise I would be quite puzzled. Mr. Morimae repeated what was said here in some responses: the tree if you see it in person has a strong flair of an ancient tree. It has a nice movement and it is very mature. The picture was taken from the lousiest possible angle and has nothing to do with the tree as it really is. Fifty percent or more of the foliage should come off right away and it would be much better and not so umbrella like. It is a very good example of the 'old' classical style before they started to lick and groom trees until today way too many look like made of plastic. Mr. Morimae gave me the impression that we should return to this old style, making bonsai look like trees and not like bonsai. So the naturalistic movement is there to stay it seems. It is a movement 'back to the roots'.
I congratulate Mike Page for this unique specimen which now will go into bonsai history as the most controversial tree in Americ and which will be the cause of a lot of thinking and clarifying in the future.
For me all the events around this tree were an epiphany. I realized that there is no such thing as 'classical bonsai style'. Too many folks have radically
different views of what is meant by this. I was most amazed to find that what I call naturalistic style would be called 'old classical style'.
How amazing this all is! The art of bonsai is alive!

greetings
Walter Pall


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 Post subject: Re: Classical Bonsai Award at 1st National Bonsai Exhibition
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:57 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2005 12:40 am
Posts: 30
Location: Rochester, New York USA
Walter,

YES, I did want the Japanese black pine in the First National Bonsai Exhibition, that's why I selected it as part of my responsibilities as a sponsor for the contest.

As stated before, the bonsai which were my first choice were already accepted for the Exhibition so I saw no need to select a bonsai twice. So, I chose a bonsai which moved me and was totally different than the large massive bonsai which were already represented in the Exhibition.

NO, Walter, I had not seen this bonsai before, and the first time I actually saw it in person was when the truck full of West Coast bonsai pulled into Rochester.

It might be difficult for those who have had limited experiences in viewing bonsai to have seen the inner beauty of this bonsai. I have been very fortunate to have had made the time necessary, (over four decades, actually), of serious historical and contemporary bonsai study. Of course having a passion for high quality bonsai beauty and taste also helped me select this bonsai.

I find it very amusing how people who have never actually seen bonsai IN Japan, (and many never outside of their own cities), to sit back and criticize bonsai when they do not have the necessary background to make profound statements on their quality.

It's a good thing that I did NOT listen the the Editors of this contest and change my selection for including this Japanese black pine bonsai for the First National Bonsai Exhibition. Then, what would be discussing?

Bill


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 Post subject: Re: Classical Bonsai Award at 1st National Bonsai Exhibition
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 11:39 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 12:42 pm
Posts: 35
Location: Lancashire, England
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Last edited by Richard Patefield on Mon Apr 27, 2009 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Classical Bonsai Award at 1st National Bonsai Exhibition
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 1:45 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2005 2:11 am
Posts: 6469
Location: Michigan USA
Richard Patefield wrote:
How can I make a bonsai that might do well in the Classical Bonsai Award category in future years?

How can I recognize a bonsai that might do well in this category, just in case I already have one?


William N. Valavanis wrote:
I have been very fortunate to have had made the time necessary, (over four decades, actually), of serious historical and contemporary bonsai study. Of course having a passion for high quality bonsai beauty and taste also helped me select this bonsai.


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 Post subject: Re: Classical Bonsai Award at 1st National Bonsai Exhibition
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 2:11 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 12:42 pm
Posts: 35
Location: Lancashire, England
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Last edited by Richard Patefield on Mon Apr 27, 2009 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Classical Bonsai Award at 1st National Bonsai Exhibition
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 2:55 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 4:01 pm
Posts: 11
Location: Sweden
I'm not going to pretend to posess the "refined taste" to see the greatness of the bonsai in question, but I can't say I find the judges decision upsetting in any way. I do however agree with the statement that it shows no ego, which is IMO worth an award these days. I also want to applaud Mike for the way he has approached this debate.

Regards
Emil


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 Post subject: Re: Classical Bonsai Award at 1st National Bonsai Exhibition
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:05 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2005 2:13 am
Posts: 1190
Location: Los Angeles, California
William N. Valavanis wrote:
I find it very amusing how people who have never actually seen bonsai IN Japan, (and many never outside of their own cities), to sit back and criticize bonsai when they do not have the necessary background to make profound statements on their quality.


Well, with all due respect Bill, is Japan the ONLY place where high quality bonsai exists? (We all know that it has the highest number of quality bonsai, nobody questions that).

You must have meant something that you did not write, because I doubt that your answer is yes to my rhetorical question.


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 Post subject: Re: Classical Bonsai Award at 1st National Bonsai Exhibition
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:17 pm 
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Location: Michigan USA
This is a good point Attila, does one have to have a traditional Japanese bonsai background in order to be able to critique, even criticize, bonsai?

I personally find this concept disturbing and it makes absolutely no sense to me. I am not Japanese, nor do I have a history of Japanese studies, but this does not prevent me from enjoying ancient Japanese wood-block prints or paintings. By the logic presented above, unless one is of European descent or has studied European culture for decades, one could not possible enjoy the paintings of the European masters or discuss them intelligently.

In not art universal? If one needs a particular cultural education to understand or enjoy it, then it has failed.



Will


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 Post subject: Re: Classical Bonsai Award at 1st National Bonsai Exhibition
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:32 pm 
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Location: Los Angeles, California
Will Heath wrote:
This is a good point Attila, does one have to have a traditional Japanese bonsai background in order to be able to critique, even criticize, bonsai?

I personally find this concept disturbing and it makes absolutely no sense to me. I am not Japanese, nor do I have a history of Japanese studies, but this does not prevent me from enjoying ancient Japanese wood-block prints or paintings. By the logic presented above, unless one is of European descent or has studied European culture for decades, one could not possible enjoy the paintings of the European masters or discuss them intelligently.

In not art universal? If one needs a particular cultural education to understand or enjoy it, then it has failed.


Good points Will, I do agree with most of what you've said.

However, to your question about the need to have education to enjoy it, my answer would be yes and no. There are works of art that are enjoyed by most everybody, with or without education. But certain works of art take much more effort from the wiewer's part to understand, and therefore to enjoy it. As an example, a Rembrandt, Michelangelo, or any member of the Hudson school of painting is much more "approachable" and much easier to enjoy than a Picasso, Klee, or Jackson Pollock.

So art, in the sense above, is not quite universal, but rather an acquired taste. It depends.


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 Post subject: Re: Classical Bonsai Award at 1st National Bonsai Exhibition
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:35 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2005 8:04 pm
Posts: 244
Location: South San Francisco, CA
[quote="Attila Soos"][quote="Will Heath"]

.much easier to enjoy than a Picasso, Klee, or Jackson Pollock.

Hi Attila
Your reference to Paul Klee resurrected a memory from many years ago.
In the early '60's I subscribed to an art magazine, HORIZON. The cover of one issue had a reproduction of a Klee abstract painting of a human face. I showed it to my daughter who was around 3 or so years old. When asked what it was, she responded, "a man face". Three or so years later, I showed her the same picture and she didn't understand it.
What does this mean to the perception and understanding of art? I don't know. However, it has always fascinated me that what was obvious to a 3 year old was a mystery to a 7 year old.

There are no absolutes in the world of art.

Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Classical Bonsai Award at 1st National Bonsai Exhibition
PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:10 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 12:42 pm
Posts: 35
Location: Lancashire, England
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Last edited by Richard Patefield on Mon Apr 27, 2009 7:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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