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Andre B. Critique Requested

dick benbow
Kevin S - Wisco Bonsai
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Post  my nellie Thu Jun 26, 2014 9:58 am

Sincere "Thank You" to everyone kindly sharing their thoughts with us!

@ Fiona
I take this as a honor and thank you for mentioning my own mother language as the one which would have given to you the capability to better understand the actual reference of this display.
fiona wrote:... ...And I could have at least understood enough in Greek to give me the actual reference... ...
my nellie
my nellie

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Post  Kakejiku Thu Jun 26, 2014 10:46 pm

Andre Beaurain wrote:
Kakejiku wrote:

Thank you for taking the time to write some of your thoughts and feelings.

You are most welcome.

I always try to follow rules of Formal/Semi-Formal/Informal (真・行・草)shin, gyou and sou respectively in Japanese. The tree would be ranked Semi-formal in species and formal in styling. So I wanted more informal pieces to go with the main tree. Perhaps this is what you mean by blocky or muscular.

What I mean...  The Tree is Masculine right?  The table it sits on is dark heavy and a bit to oversize...hence masculine.  The scroll is nothing but manly.  The figurine sits on a formal seat (jiita)  ...I feel this is also to Butch.  Then you ad a very beautiful feminine figurine...  There is no balance...  a ratio of 1 - 5 ,
it would preferably be 2 -4 or 3 -3  or get away from the Feminine figurine and do it all Masculine...this will also work.

I do not mix the concepts of Formal/Semi-Formal/Informal (真・行・草)shin, gyou and sou with Masculine Feminine and Neutral. But if it was the case of trying to assign gender to the system and if Shin is Masculine, Gyou perhaps Neutral and Sou is Feminine. The tree in this case would be Neutral/Feminine with regards to species and styling. The scroll is not Masculine. The scroll style is Maru Hyougu which is one of the most informal (Feminine) scroll styles (only Fukuro Hyougu is more informal or Feminine). The writing is gyousho and that would be neutral. Bonsai tables are never formal, they always start as neutral, and then depending on the material used would be classified as formal, Semi-formal or Informal.

Very rarely do Japanese bonsai artists put a shohin/chuuhin size tree into the scroll. When it blends into the scroll, tendency of eye is to move away from the tree, no longer making it the focal point of the display. I do have an example of a bunjin red pine flowing into the Chi (bottom portion) of the scroll, but it was only a two point display and had meaning in its placement.

This is just the problem with your display.  You want the tree to be the focal point...but its not, the scroll definitely is.
This is also where personal taste comes in, cause whenever the bonsai touches the scroll visually, I love it,   and it blends together beautifully.   Whenever it is not , it always doesnt look right to me.

The Bunjin red pine display ...the spacing is equisite  and very well balanced...  Scroll and tree are married to form a beautiful display

My question to members is why this was done this way? I have my theories and how it relates to the theme, but wanted to hear others thoughts before I chimed in… It is not a common practice to put the bonsai into the scroll…

I disagree with moving the accent any closer...It seems so ironic to me that here in our wide open Western Hemisphere, we cram everything so close in a bonsai display, but in Japan (I can not speak from experience with other East Asian nations) they want to put as much open space as possible. It is like, in their everyday life they are so starved of personal space, that if provided the opportunity they put as much space as possible between objects, and we do the opposite in the West.

You might like it, but the figurine  looks isolated and alone, is this what you want to portray?
Placing items with as much space as possible doesnt make it balanced.  And I wouldnt call a Tokonoma spacious.  hihihihihiiihiii

There are many types of Toko no Ma…(Whole different subject altogether) An Ichima and Ichimahan toko no ma display is quite spacious…usually one entire Tatami mat…You are correct that the spacing between the table and the end is a little squished, but there is little difference between the spacing of the Red pine to the lefthand edge of the display area and the placement of my figurine compared to the lefthand edge. The space to the right is similar as well, only being a two point display there is nothing else to see on the other.  

By organic Jiita, do you mean a Tenzenkei? The figurine is a Sou no Shin (ceramic and religious) so perhaps matching it with a shin no sou jiita would work, but it feels to me at first glance as too contradictory and extreme in the differences of formality.

Do you consider the figurine formal?  For me she is the only informal thing in the display.
I dont know Tensenkei and neither does Google ,  we must be of same mind.. hihihihihihii hi hi hii

天然形 This is the characters for the term. It does exist, but is probably a specialized term for Gaddou display. That is why it will not show up on a general Google translator or similar database. Same goes for specialized Scrollmaking vocabulary such as Chuumawashi 中廻し. The accent is informal/formal (sou no shin) in Japanese, because of the material used and the religious nature of the subject matter.

I have never seen figurines placed on moss in formal Japanese  displays. This idea seems like something more suited for an all encompassing bonkei style exhibit.

I have never seen Mary Magdalene in a Japanese display or even in a Japanese garden....

If you elevate the accent, wouldn't that further distract the viewers eye from the main tree? For me personally it would...

Our eyes are already distracted by the main tree... we only look at the scroll.  The bonsai is so shuffeld in the corner that it remains as an afterthought.

Perhaps you are right…

I think if you used a scroll with a picture of a Star your message would have come through.

Imagery since many viewers are having trouble interpreting obtuse cues in our minds. This is the point of display…sending indirect, subtle visual cues to  tell a story.

You fight against the idea of a Scroll in Hebrew for its against the rules of Japanese display.  But then you use a Western Religious figurine...... Shocked   It doesnt make sense

I never fought against the idea Fiona brought up…I said I do not have access to a Greek or Hebrew calligrapher. It is fair enough that some would object to or say I am hypocritical about a Western themed composition in a traditional Japanese format…

Thank you for your thoughts and ideas.

Thank you and bless you.`

Love and light

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Post  Andrew Legg Thu Jun 26, 2014 11:12 pm

Dear Kakejiku,

I understand your concern with English "fitting" on a scroll, but the sacrifice you make is that I as a native English speaker will not be able to read it. Part of your message it then lost unless there is further description somewhere. The impact and purity of your display is then lost perhaps?  Now, as your display is located in a predominantly English speaking location, you will have to accept that a large portion of your audience will not fully understand it, not as a result of some artistic principle or expression difference, but because we simply can't read it. It's a mechanical problem, as we can only enjoy the kanji for its visual beauty, and not for it's message, which is it's very purpose.  It's like doing a painting and then asking for an opinion with one third of the painting obscured with a black cloth. 

A possible option .. . . In the days of yore in England, and quite probably in the US and other parts of the English speaking world, messages were delivered by horse and foot.  Royalty and noblemen had wax seals sealing scrolls with what I guess would have been written in very elaborate and intricate cursive script. About as close to a Japanese scroll as we could culturally claim to hold in common. . . . Ho hum . . . Food for thought.



Andrew Legg

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Post  Kakejiku Fri Jun 27, 2014 2:14 am

Andrew Legg wrote:Dear Kakejiku,

It's a mechanical problem, as we can only enjoy the kanji for its visual beauty, and not for it's message, which is it's very purpose.  It's like doing a painting and then asking for an opinion with one third of the painting obscured with a black cloth. 


Interesting metaphor with the painting, and something to chew on for the future. Again I return to the sample I gave to Fiona. In my Display book, 70% of the displays that use a Japanese calligraphy scroll are written in the Sousho or Kana style, which is illegible. So even the Japanese are looking at those for only the visual beauty, and not necessarily linking it to the theme.

Thank you for pointing out some English history and nuances to how it could relate to the Japanese scroll.

I hope you would take some time to research the story of Takasago as the Noh play. It is fascinating and is related to trees which all bonsai lovers should relate to.

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Post  fiona Fri Jun 27, 2014 9:52 am

The only difficulty with the English cursive script comparison is that at the time it would be being used, very few people outside the educated elite and the church would have been able to read anyway, so again the message would be open only to a few.

Thinking a bit more about the Japanese scroll, it does seem to fulfil the crossover between the two cultures that you intend in the display and so has a justification. An option, if understanding the scroll is essential, might be to put at the bottom in small English text the Bible reference. This is fairly customary when quoting from Scripture in the western world and need not be intrusive. The standard form is just Book of the Bible.Chapter.Verse, as you probably already know. Those who know their references will instantly understand even if the scroll text is not English, and those who are interested enough will go and look it up.

I cannot criticise the use of a Japanese text scroll as I have been known to use ones with text in Scottish Gaelic which, unlike our fellow Celtic languages in Wales and Ireland, remains very much a minority language over here - making it, too, inaccessible to the majority. And I do have to say that I do rather like the beauty of Uncial variants/insular script that we tend to use when artistically representing Celtic text, so to a considerable extent I am doing pretty much what you are doing.

Re a suitable thorny tree, depending on what you have in your neck of the woods, a Barberry or a Hawthorn would do, but there may be others native to your area that are better.

This whole display and the ensuing discussion is really quite fascinating. Many thanks for posting it.

"Espouse elucidation"

my website

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Post  Kakejiku Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:00 pm

Kakejiku wrote:If you are searching for impact, contemplation and thoughtfulness I will propose the following. This was a display placed at the entrance before the main showroom of a bonsai display event. It is a Bunjin styled red pine with a painting of Takasago. I suggest people research Takasago to begin contemplating some of the messages below.
Andre B. Critique Requested - Page 2 Human_10
Why was it placed at the entrance and what is the overall theme or reason for this display?
Some state that Humans in a Scroll is frowned upon...Why is this different?
I was taught that redundant items or themes in a display is discouraged or detracts from the display. Isn't it redundant to have a red pine and then figures that are anthropomoriphic  symbols of pine trees redundant?

I have not yet heard anyone chime in on these questions...So I thought I would express some of my feelings.
Here is a link to a synopsis explanation of the Noh play.

My first question was why this was placed at the entrance before the main display hall. Why is this a case where the tree is being merged into the bottom portion of the scroll?

This is just my opinion, but Takasago is a feeling of welcoming and putting others at ease and comfort. That is one reason for the placement, to welcome the visitors. Another view on display, is that the Scroll represents heaven, the bonsai represents man and the accents represent earth. In this display there is no accent...So another symbolic reason may be to prepare the viewer of the upcoming displays that they are going to be transported into a heavenly realm (bonsai viewing) of existence, and that man and heaven will be fused into one during their time at the museum.

I may be reaching a little too deep into the meaning, but with the rich symbolism inherent in Japanese art, I may be spot on too...

Which answers the question about redundant symbols. They may look redundant physically, but if Takasago and Suminoyoshi are spirit (Heavenly) reincarnations of the pine tree, and the red pine is the man (Tomonari) then they really are not redundant themes in the display are they?

Any other thoughts?

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