Forgotten trees ?

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Forgotten trees ?

Post  tim stubbs on Sat May 28, 2011 7:21 am

From what Rob said in another thread

"His trees and approach (as many in southern China) are different than what we are frequently told is the way to do bonsai. The Chinese proved to me at least that there are many ways to do bonsai and to always look to Japan for one's way is limiting. (It is pretty much agreed the origins of bonsai are in China not Japan). I enjoy the Japanese approach but I also enjoy seeing how artists can evolve bonsai into something new and interesting."

I started looking for info on them and was surprised what I found , especially on Lindsay Farr's videos , the styling of their pines is so different to what we have been told is correct


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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  AlainK on Sat May 28, 2011 10:37 am

For those interested in Chinese bonsai, I have this site in my bookmarks :

http://www.fff789.com/picture.aspx?id=146

To browse the pages, at the bottom of the thumbnail frame, look for [上页] [下页] (previous - next)

I've wanted for quite some time to make a a sort of typology of the major styles for the members of my club, but I never seem to have the time.

Anyway, I've always been very interested in Chinese bonsai, penjings, they often look more "free" in their training though I'm certain they have rules too that I don't know. Apparently, they work more by cutting and trimming and use wiring much more sparingly, which gives branches with more angular shapes.

So as the vast majority of people here hardly know anything about Chinese bonsai, when someone criticizes one of my trees for "not following the rules", I reply that I wanted to give it a "Chinese feel" Razz

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  Todd Ellis on Sat May 28, 2011 11:29 am

Hi Alain,
I usually prefer the look of Penjing when I see a collection of trees. I love the fact that Penjing seem to emphasize the tree's individual character versus the Japanese approach of complying to an aesthetic of how bonsai "should" look. I love them both and know that training foliage pads (to look convincing) takes much more time and skill; its hard to put the differentces into words and I believe there are more similarities in the two approaches than differences. They are all beautiful. In addition, there are many other approaches to styling trees around the world that have their own aesthetic as well. I have been told that there is an American style that has emerged over the past few decades. I am still trying to understand what "that style" is... says this American. Very Happy
Thank you for the link. Great post!
Best,
Todd


Last edited by Todd Ellis on Sat May 28, 2011 11:37 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added thought)

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  Randy_Davis on Sat May 28, 2011 10:18 pm

Todd Ellis wrote: I have been told that there is an American style that has emerged over the past few decades. I am still trying to understand what "that style" is... says this American.

Todd,

I like you am looking for the "American Style". I'm not so sure that anything in that direction has emerged over the last few decades at all. There have been individuals that have walked a different path, some successfull some not. It seems to me, that an "American Style" will not be forthcomming anytime soon. I think it will depend on the work of someone or some group to blaze the path for others to follow to tell the "American story" in stylized trees and landscapes. It will not become a style untill it becomes an expression of the American culture, history, and natural Landscape which is distinct and seperate from what we know as bonsai (a Japanese story) or penjing (a Chinese story). All to often divergence from those established paths are overlooked or otherwise not given a fair shake at development and fair evaluation. I have noticed that the artist's in Australia are on a path to developing a unique style all their own, mostly based on native australian plant material and a more naturalistic look to their trees. I look forward to the day when an "American style" is undertaken and an "Amerincan Story" can be told.

Randy

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  JimLewis on Sat May 28, 2011 10:41 pm

"American style" doesn't necessarily have to be applied to all bonsai made in America.

I think the flat-top bald cypress is a quite distinctive American style. (For instance)

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  Randy_Davis on Sat May 28, 2011 11:20 pm

JimLewis wrote:"American style" doesn't necessarily have to be applied to all bonsai made in America.

I think the flat-top bald cypress is a quite distinctive American style. (For instance)

Jim,

I agree that it should not be applied to all bonsai made in America, that would be silly indeed. Your example of Vaughn Bantings "American flat top" is a good start. It represents his impression of a mature, natural Bald cypress of the Louisiana bayou and it's an excellent start for what I consider to be one of many potential American styles based on native regional landscapes and plant material. I would feel that it would be inappropraiate for that particular tree to be displayed with a japanese scroll for example. I think a photo of a bayou flat bottom boat in the bayou would be far more appropriate and be more expressive of the "American Experience" in minature trees and landscapes. One example though, does not make a Style or School of design that is broadly accepted by those that practice the art form.

Randy

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Tim, Alain, Randy Jim, et all

Post  Todd Ellis on Sun May 29, 2011 1:49 am

Vaugh Bantings's flat top Cypress was the first tree which came to mind when thinking about the American Collection. I saw the tree again in early May and just marvel everytime I see it. It has such a look of age and naturalness unlike any other bald cypress I've seen. The staff at the National Arboretum have done a fantastic job growing and maintaining this tree...and the other trees as well. Certainly John Naka's Goshin has an "Americaness" to it as well.

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  NeilDellinger on Sun May 29, 2011 3:11 am

Does this matter..."American" "Japanese" "Chinese"...ad infinitum.

The 1st & 2nd US exhibition albums show many trees by Americans that look "Japanese", and almost every Kokufu album shows vast numbers/species of trees that are not what many think of when they say "Japanese" trees do not appeal to them. Besides, you've left out a bunch of other continents & regions.

They're all trees in "pots" that in some way shape or form look like "trees". Whether in essence or by directly imitating nature, it really doesn't matter.

Why not group them into really nice, nice, has potential and "why the hell did you buy that".

Just a thought.


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American Style

Post  Mitch Thomas on Sun May 29, 2011 3:49 am

Hi all
Another style that is American born would be the southern live oak style. One artist named Joe Day from Mobile Ala. Has really persued this style into at least 5 variations. His Boxwood collection is second to none.

I think we as Americans are just opening the door on our indigenous trees and styles.
Mitch

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  RKatzin on Sun May 29, 2011 4:54 am

An 'American Style' would be nothing less than a conglomerate of all styles. How could it be anything else? That's what America is, everybody is here and they all brought their ideas. The American way is to take all the ideas, mix 'em all together and make a new idea, maybe not new, but different. We're a new country here, just a couple of hundred years on the map and we don't have the deep cultural history of China or Japan. So, true to form, we learn and practice both their forms and add a spice of 'Americanism". I like Japanese style bonsai, but I favor the Chinese style, but they look like landscapes I see in my world. I don't do Chinese landscapes, I don't do American landscapes either, but I'm learning on it and have tried a few layouts, building up to an Oregon hillside, which will of course have Japanese Maples, Korean Boxwood and a Chinese Elm, 'cause that's America baby!

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  AlainK on Sun May 29, 2011 10:33 am

NeilDellinger wrote:Does this matter..."American" "Japanese" "Chinese"...ad infinitum.
(...)
Why not group them into really nice, nice, has potential and "why the hell did you buy that".

It's not that it matters, it's just that generally speaking, they have a different "feel".

The shape and style of a tree also largely depends on the species : in Southern China, they use lots of species that we don't have here, not only "Chinese elms". they have a character of their own.

...and i do agree with your conclusion.

@ RKatzin :

"An 'American Style' would be nothing less than a conglomerate of all styles."

You could say that of all bonsai that are not from a country where this art is multi-secular.

"Style" is often more the artist's style than anything else. We all have our preferences when it comes to choosing an option for the construction of a tree, and not repeating oneself is sometimes difficult.

But I'm not an artist Wink

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  Brett Summers on Sun May 29, 2011 11:46 am

tim stubbs wrote:From what Rob said in another thread

"His trees and approach (as many in southern China) are different than what we are frequently told is the way to do bonsai. The Chinese proved to me at least that there are many ways to do bonsai and to always look to Japan for one's way is limiting. (It is pretty much agreed the origins of bonsai are in China not Japan). I enjoy the Japanese approach but I also enjoy seeing how artists can evolve bonsai into something new and interesting."

I started looking for info on them and was surprised what I found , especially on Lindsay Farr's videos , the styling of their pines is so different to what we have been told is correct


The last few years I have drifted into an interest of Penjing. One defining moment was when discussing a tree of mine with online friends. They convinced me to chop it down more than I had to get rid of a straight taper less section on the trunk. I agree it made a much better bonsai.
Then a picture of a very nice penjing was presented for discussion. I said hang on that trunk looks the same as mine. They said yes but this is penjing. My question was why couldn't mine be penjig?
To this I got no reply. Shocked I classed this as unfinished theory and wanted to know more.
Then some time later I consider how to explain a local friends style which I think has a penjing influence. I was starting to be able to identify single tree penjing but still could not put what this was into words scratch
Lindsay Farr's videos are a great starting point but other than that the most we found was articles describing the different penjing schools (much like Chinese whispers) but finding pictures of great penjing was not easy.
This seemed to cultivate a culture that penjing was just an excuse for bad bonsai but the few great penjing I had seen meant this attitude was a mistake.
After much discussion and thought I read a section in Bonsai, it's Art, Science, History and Philosophy by Deborah Koreshoff and Finnally I found an explanation in words.
Won't look up the exact quote but basicly she states Bonsai is Prose and Penjing is poetry. Now I will not say that there is no poetry in bonsai but only that penjing is more about the poetry of nature and less about copying nature in miniature. There is less about 1 for 1 scale of a miniature tree and more about showing the "poetry" of nature.
Lindsay talks in his movies of a world melting pot of all these styles when he does not find the Penjing described to him in books when he travels China. I think he is very correct and we may see this most prominently in people such as Robert Steven who even claims to meld Penjing with Bonsai. Or the people who lable some trees as cookie cutter and looking for that tree that shouts something more unique.
I personally like all styles of Bonsai from cookie cutter to penjing but find penjing is a little of the forgotten Trees and love to get in touch with my penjing side.
I know of two books on this subject heading to the presses. One from Robert Steven stating he is compiling a book on the schools of penjing as it is very misunderstood subject.
Also one from another Aussie local Philippe Tot. Only a young guy but seems very learned for his age and origins in this field.
Recently a member of Ausbonsai posted this link which shows some very impressive and famous penjing from a recent show.
Be sure to click on the few links in the first paragraph.
http://www.happybonsai.com/lingnan-penjing-bonsai-show-daliang-china/

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  Rob Kempinski on Sun May 29, 2011 1:01 pm

The Chinese bonsai I saw recently on the two and half week BCI tour of China showed the diversity of the Chinese style and the lack of concern for the rules that many of us have learned, For example, I saw many conifers in glazed pots, not a biggie but again the Chinese approach is not so didactic. Also note the lack of concern for taper. Branch and pad placement is much more creative. Use of aerial roots on other than Ficus trees.


In southern China the trees are distinctly different - like here in Florida they use many tropical trees that are not used in the temperate regions. Other Chinese approaches not commonn in the west include painting the poetic name of the tree on the pot as in this big ficus with old and warped pot.



The Chinese have several bonsai styles I have not seen anywhere else, such as the Wall style. Note the poetic name on the wall.


The disappearing trunk style (ok maybe some Umes have this style)



The very flat pad style popular in Yangzhou, the site of the 2013 BCI Convention. Highly recommend attending BTW.



Then there's the no ramification style, the V-for victory style, the snake root and several more. There is really a lot to learn from China and I agree with Tim's title, the Forgotten Trees.

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  Randy_Davis on Sun May 29, 2011 1:39 pm

Rob,

Some very lovely pieces of living art!!!! I notice that some of those trees are very large inded!!!!! I also wonder about the local or regional natural landscape from which these designs were derived, it must be distinct and unique. I love the freedom of style, which in my mind makes for a hidden story behind each tree when they are viewed. As they say, variety is the spice of life and these are very spicy!

Randy

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  Orion on Sun May 29, 2011 4:51 pm

It's almost as if they have the structure of Chinese caligraphy.

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  Brett Summers on Mon May 30, 2011 10:08 am

Ya lucky Bugger Rob, Seems that you where at the same show I linked above Shocked

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  Rob Kempinski on Mon May 30, 2011 10:51 pm

Randy_Davis wrote:Rob,

Some very lovely pieces of living art!!!! I notice that some of those trees are very large inded!!!!! I also wonder about the local or regional natural landscape from which these designs were derived, it must be distinct and unique. I love the freedom of style, which in my mind makes for a hidden story behind each tree when they are viewed. As they say, variety is the spice of life and these are very spicy!

Randy
Randy, in southern China the bonsai trees can be very large as in Taiwan and other tropical places. I think it has to do with the fast growth of tropical species, an 11 or 12 month long growing season and the fact that they don't have to be put away for the winter so they can grow outdoors all year without having to be carried much.

The flat pad style definitely related to the pines in the yellow mountains (Huang Shan mountains - try googling and looking at the trees around them) although the really flat pad style comes from the technique of fiber tying instead of wiring. The goal is 3 turns per inch.

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  Rob Kempinski on Mon May 30, 2011 10:52 pm

Brett Summers wrote:Ya lucky Bugger Rob, Seems that you where at the same show I linked above Shocked

"Lucky bugger" - is that a good thing??? bom drunken rabbit

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Mon May 30, 2011 11:17 pm

Brett Summers wrote:Ya lucky Bugger Rob, Seems that you where at the same show I linked above Shocked

Not the same show, but it would appear the same part of China and some of the same trees. The show linked seems to have been mostly outdoors. Although we visited Mr. Han's garden outside, the major show was indoors.



This shows the entrance to the show in Guangzhou, which included a large vendor area of "some" bonsai related items but mostly a large flea market atmosphere, there was also an outdoor vendor area.

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  Todd Ellis on Mon May 30, 2011 11:20 pm

Hi Rob,
Is the close up photo of the flat top style the same tree as your page one photo of the Yangzhou tree?
The craftwork is amazing. I have read that tying a tree takes hours and hours. Do they leave the palm fiber on until it disintegrates?
Do you have more close up pictures of the technique?
Thanks,
Todd

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  Randy_Davis on Tue May 31, 2011 1:46 am

Rob Kempinski wrote:The flat pad style definitely related to the pines in the yellow mountains (Huang Shan mountains - try googling and looking at the trees around them)

Rob,

Oh yeah, I googled that and yes, you definately can see the natural enviornment in those designs. That is always the first step in design evolution and development. Makes me want to rent a few movies like "Last of the Mohicans" again and pay attention the the virgin american forest scenes.

Randy

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  PkWk on Tue May 31, 2011 9:57 am

China is undoubtedly the birth place of bonsai.
Bonsai is a part of Chinese art and culture.
I wish not further elaborate or debate some of the opinions written in this tropic but rather enclose here a biography of a Chinese bonsai artist master Hu Yueguo for your reading pleasure.




http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=zh-CN&u=http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4b95bc5f0100mchm.html&ei=7KvkTbSlA4fprAeFrIDKBg&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBsQ7gEwAA&prev=/search%3Fq%3D%25E8%2583%25A1%25E4%25B9%2590%25E5%259B%25BD%26hl%3Den%26prmd%3Divns

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Re: Forgotten trees ?

Post  PkWk on Tue May 31, 2011 10:09 am

Some of the Chinese fucus bonsai are simply gigantic and displaced along the street.
Here are some photos taken when I was in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province China last year.




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