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 Post subject: Avant-garde Bonsai
PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 5:29 pm 
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This thread is for discussing Will Heath's article "Avant-garde Bonsai"
http://www.artofbonsai.org/feature_articles/avant.php


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 6:05 am 
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I know Walter and others see him as an Avant Garde artist, but I do not.
Why? Although Walter's Naturalistic Style may break "Bonsai Rules" and get some Bonsai people in an uproar, he is actually creating trees that non-Bonsai people see as trees more than most Bonsai! I believe that Walters trees would find more success and acceptance with non Bonsai people than more stylized Bonsai would. While Bonsai people get bogged down in classification, the average Joe wants to see a tree that looks just like a tree. Just imagine a gallery filled with Walter's trees and Kimura's Bonsai.

The public would clearly understand and relate to Walter's Trees but I do not believe they would embrace Kimura. To me, Walters Trees are more like an oil painting of a natural scene and Kimura more like a Dali. For me, I enjoy different styles, too much of one thing is boring. Why do we need to trash talk and degrade one over another? Must one be torn down to make another valid? There is not one single "right"way to create Bonsai. I aplauld those that try new ideas (even if they are really old ideas brought back). I agree that Bonsai is changing, but not as the author suggests, but by people all over the world( not just in Europe as is so popular to suggest). I am influenced by all the Bonsai I have seen, all the teachers I have learned from, all the books I have read. I thank China for sharing Penjing with Japan and Japan for high refinement of the ART. Of course I have been influenced by the Mountains and forests I grew up with, but respect the roots of the ART I love.
Mark


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 12:32 pm 
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Mark Arpag wrote:
To me, Walter's trees are more like an oil painting of a natural scene and Kimura more like a Dali.

Mark,
This is an astute and interesting observation; I agree (though I might quibble on the Dali comparison, but I understand your point.)
Best regards,
Carl


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 1:22 pm 
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I would never have thought of Walter as avant-garde. To me, his style is fairly conservative, and illustrative of Naka-sensei's admonition to "make your bonsai look like a tree". And, Walter does that very, very well.

Kimura took bonsai in Japan to a new level. His fantastic "sculptures" seemed at the time to be somewhat avant-garde, but when viewed in retrospect, may be more a logical extension of what went before.

For me, there are a number of avant-garde bonsai artists, and maybe foremost among them is Nick Lenz. Nick has a personal vision that he expresses in his bonsai, and dares us to follow.
Mike


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 1:38 pm 
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Hi Mike,
I understand your point about Walter's work and I spent a long time thinking about this before mentioning his name in this article.
I finally had to consider the following facts that led to my observation that Walter's work was indeed avant-garde based on the definition quoted below I used in the article from csa.com (the actual link is in the article).
"In relation to art, it is used to describe a movement, artist, or group of artists which produces work which is considered to be breaking away from tradition and which steers art in a new direction."*
  • Walter has certainly broken away from the traditional styles which predominated our art form for many years.
  • He certainly goes against current trends in styling.
  • His naturalistic work has certainly affected the way bonsai is precieved by both the public and other artists, maybe not steering in a new direction, but certainly affecting the course.
  • He spends a great deal of time explaining what naturalistic styling is and in some cases, defending it.
We must also consider more about this artist than simply his results when deciding if he qualifys as avant-garde, such as:
  • His recent astounding coupe in Europe in which his bonsai were displayed in a major fine art museum.
  • His support of other avant-garde artists.
  • His no-nonsense, straight to the fact manner of stripping mystery from such subjects as fertilizing and soil.
  • and many other things not usually "common."

Kimura and Lenz are of course, obvious examples and I agree that they are avant-garde.

Will

* Avant-garde Bonsai http://www.artofbonsai.org/feature_articles/avant.php


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2006 7:04 am 
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All terminology must be seen within the context of the one who use(d) it.
A term 'avant garde' must, conform this definition, always be read as a reaction to a style or a group of bonsai we called 'tradition'.

If one mentioned that 'Naka' is the same as 'tradition', than we can say that 'Kimura' is avant garde (against 'Naka'). But what about 'Walter Pall' and 'Nick Lenz'.

We must see in which time frame 'Walter' and 'Nick' play a roll in the bonsai community. I think that they came in after the Kimura style was already well known. Right ' Now we can say that 'Walter' is a reaction to 'Kimura' to go back to 'Naka' (or not if his bonsai is significantly different from Naka's bonsai).

And 'Nick' is another avant garde movement against 'Naka', but also against 'Kimura', because his bonsai is taking another direction than Kimura's bonsai.

I don't want to use the term 'naturalistic', because such generic term can easily be misleading and a source of miscommunication.
(against must be read as 'reaction to' not as 'opposite').


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2006 7:46 am 
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Ron,
this makes sense to me. I will ahve to think about it and come back later.
Walter Pall


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 4:47 pm 
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Walter,
I?m very glad to 'talk' directly to you, because you are allready one of the icons in the bonsai community today, I think especially in Europe. I don't know your thought in creating what some people now seems to call 'the naturalistic style?. So, it would be fine to share your thoughts here.
As far as I can enjoy your bonsai, most of it are not unlike other high quality bonsai from other bonsai masters (I refer to photographs # 1,2,5,6,10 etc in the gallery).

I see indeed a couple of bonsai from your hands which are 'different', I think because they are more loosely designed (#3,7,8,11,etc). Are these latest bonsai the best examples of this so called 'naturalistic style' ' Are you happy with this 'talking' or is it something that people made up without your own will and desire ?

I can imagine that you 'launched' this 'new' style by nature, namely because you are reaching a point to escape from the tradition, by which I mean the world-fameus classification of the Japanese bonsai, namely the classification of the Moyogi. Chokkan, etc especially with their guidelines, which are put in English words for the first time by Kyuzo Murata, Yuji Yoshimura, Saburo Kato, or John Naka.

Who won't if one has already created hunderds of it ?
Finally, I'm very sorry to put your high quality bonsai into 2 small 'boxes', but I do this only for communication reasons.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 5:42 pm 
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Ron,
may I draw your attention to this thread tro clarify most issues:
http://artofbonsai.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=714
Ron Sudiono wrote:
As far as I can enjoy your bonsai, most of it are not unlike other high quality bonsai from other bonsai masters (I refer to photographs # 1,2,5,6,10 etc in the gallery).


Many of my trees are in training since decades. They have been started as more or less classical bonsai and they still are more or less. These are some of my better trees, of course, because of the lenght of training. The newer trees are not as good yet usually, but many of them are in the naturalistic style. It happens very often that people think everything that I produce MUST be in the naturalistic style and then they see my trees and are confused. Some say I am a sort of phony. Some say that I speak naturalistic and style classical. They don't understand the time issue.

Just todayI understand that my logo tree has won runner up of the Bonsai World Contest. I am very proud , of course. And many people will be totally confused, because it looks so traditional. Well, it is in the traditional style. I have sent four trees, three in the naturalistic style which were my favorites to make a point and one traditional to have a chance from apurely Japanese judges. And here we are. Well, I am happy to be able to please most.

Ron Sudiono wrote:
I see indeed a couple of bonsai from your hands which are "different", I think because they are more loosely designed (#3,7,8,11,etc). Are these latest bonsai the best examples of this so called "naturalistic style" ? Are you happy with this "talking" or is it something that people made up without your own will and desire ?


Well this talking at some times had crossed the boundaries to insult. I took a loot of heat. By now this has eased off. The bonsai fundamentalists who knew they were right are not so sure anymore. Or at least it seems they have become to realize that they are not the majority which is what they thought.

So this talking has made me famous in a way. I have not made it up. In all innocence I always have posted what I thought was good and everybody wold be able to see this. Only to find out that nothing could be further from the truth. By now people have gotten used to some of this and many seem to like it more and more. When the first painters startet to paint abstract there were very serious calls for declaring them insane. Ironically in bonsai it is the other way around. The mainstream is abstract to very abstract and someone who styles realistic is declared a fool.

Ron Sudiono wrote:
I can imagine that you "launched" this "new" style by nature, namely because you are reaching a point to escape from the tradition, by which I mean the world-fameus classification of the Japanese bonsai, namely the classification of the Moyogi. Chokkan, etc especially with their guidelines, which are put in English words for the first time by Kyuzo Murata, Yuji Yoshimura, Saburo Kato, or John Naka.

There is something to this. But I have not done this consciously. I only found that I had lost more and more people with my newest creations which I had thought were good. And then I started to think why this was so and have come up with some philsophical framework to defend myself.

Ron Sudiono wrote:
Finally, I'm very sorry to put your high quality bonsai into 2 small "boxes", but I do this only for communication reasons.


Ron, not for a second do you have to be sorry about this. I have developed such a thick skin in the meanwhild, I don't even blink at most of this stuff anymore. I always welcome an intelligent discussion. It is highly appreciated if someone is NOT of my opinion as long as this is voiced in a civilized way. And I do appreciate if someone has actually read what I have written and listened to me and is not accusing me from what he THINKS I am sayig or doing or what he HEARS.
Walter


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 6:18 pm 
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Walter says: "Just todayI understand that my logo tree has won runner up of the Bonsai World Contest."
Most hearty congratulations Walter.
I haven't seen any results yet. Do you know when they will be posted?
Of course I entered some pictures, as did some friends, and we are curious as to how it turned out.
Mike


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 6:30 pm 
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Mike, check out the IBC website, Bill Valavanis' last thread.
http://internetbonsaiclub.org/index.php ... ic=20701.0


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 7:08 pm 
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Attila, thanks for the heads up.
The pix on the wall are hard to make out. I enlarged them on the computer, and even though they were highly pixelated I think I recognize 2. If I'm not mistaken, one is an olive belonging to a friend and the other is my sumo silverberry.
Time will tell.
Mike


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2006 9:46 am 
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Walter Pall wrote:
It happens very often that people think everything that I produce MUST be in the naturalistic style and then they see my trees and are confused. Some say I am a sort of phony. Some say that I speak naturalistic and style classical. They don't understand the time issue.

Well, those people has to be more open minded like the Japanese did and do. For example, why we still can enjoy Japanese gardens in Japan which were build in 11 century, 15 century, 17 century, etc ? It is because the Japanese let the old ones live besides the new ones. They don?t replace things (read: styles) like a software version on your laptop, but in stead they build the new and maintain the old at the same time: They welcome Lisa Tajima in Gafu-ten ! Who says that the Japanese are mainly traditional and conservative ?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 12:19 pm 
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I'm not sure I understand why Walter's tree was used as an illustration of avant-garde. It's a beautiful tree, and certainly doesn't follow cookie-cutter rules. I would be very hard-pressed to call it avant-garde. I would look at many of Nick Lenz' trees as such, including the Maleficent tree and his gargoyle rendition. While not a big fan of some of these trees, I see the appeal.

I would also place Andy Rutledge's wind-blown deciduous tree in the same class. As avant-garde artists, they are leading the way, and generating some followers, if attempts to achieve similar results are any indication.
Great bonsai are great bonsai, regardless of conventions. Anyone who has ever been around great bonsai comes to understand that the "rules" (read Naka-isms) are more of a description of what works with bonsai as opposed to legislation of what bonsai must be. But a preponderence of the greatest bonsai are yamadori, and respect is shown for the material by helping bring out its strongest points.

So: would Boon's Ascending Dragon be considered avant-garde?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 12:58 pm 
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I hope it is fine with Boon to show the tree here for better understanding.
-dorothy


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