I've recently re-visited an old thread called "I am artist". Of course, the discussions in this thread inevitably lead to opinions about who is an artist, from which we are a step away from discussions on the nature of art. Experienced Internet forum participants know that on-line discussions on the nature of art are not linear debates, but rather parallel universes, just like discussions on the existence of God. There is more fun staying out these discussions than being part of them.
The logical progression from discussing art is discussing the concept of Kitsch. There is a common use of this word as a derogatory term, describing something as non-art. But few know about this term being used in the contemporary art community as a valid description of a relatively new art movement. It's goal is to rebel against the tyranny of modernism
and re-introduce passion, honesty and craftmanship in contemporary art.
The main proponent of the Kitsch movement is Odd Nerdrum
, self proclaimed Kitsch painter. He is a well-known personality in the art community and a good friend of Edward Much's. His book called On Kitsch
is fascinating reading to everybody interested in the Arts. You can read it in one afternoon and learn more about the nature of art than reading thousands of pages of reference material.
The reason I am bringing this up here is that one can find a very close parallel between bonsai and Odd Nerdrum's Kitsch concept. Next time you create a bonsai, knowing about the above will help you determine whether you are creating Kitsch or art. You may never be totally sure about it, but at least you will have a hunch :).
The the next best thing to reading his book is to browse Odd Nerdrum's kitsch website. It is fascinating reading material.
Here is the link to the Kitsch section of the website:
Reading this is not for everybody unless one is REALLY interested in what is regarded as art in the Western culture. To me, it was very helpful in trying to place bonsai in the broader context of the arts in the West. It also makes one realize how differently art is perceived by the cultures in the East versus the Western mentality. It is so different, that it makes practically impossible for two people from those two cultures to have any meaningful communication about art.
I see an almost insurmountable conflict in our world of bonsai: we are learning its fundamentals from the Far-Eastern cultures, but we are applying our Western concept of art to it. The two cultures see art in radically different ways, and we, bonsai practitioners, are in the middle of this conflict. I don't believe that this conflict will be resolved in our lifetime.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the book and/or the website.