Auction Bonsai of the Month - August, 2007

Bonsai Nut

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Shimpaku Juniper, Yahoo! Auction Japan
 

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
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Like many high-end auction bonsai, this is a tree of great potential, but with substantial challenges. However I thought it would be a great topic for discussion.

This is a Itoigawa true Kashiwa < Pattern wood > Shimpaku Juniper from Takamatsu city in Kagawa prefecture. It was collected from the wild, and from the listing: "From the appearance of this tree, it probably spent many years in a harsh natural environment, and received natural carving via snowstorm, the essence of which is deeply engendered in the tree. It captures and holds the severity and force of nature. Hopefully I have been able to show its tireless essence." The tree is currently selling for $3450 (with one bid).

In my opinion, the tree has a powerful front, but is overwhelmed by heavy and featureless deadwood (especially when seen from the back). I think that this tree would benefit tremendously by some deadwood reduction/carving, but it might (for some people) reduce the interest of the tree as a naturally created bonsai. What do you think? And what do you think about the overall composition - tree & pot?





 

Attila Soos

Omono
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I am trying to point out the good things and then the bad things about this tree.

I am just having a hard time to find anything good, other than the great age of this tree. This age is shown through the presence of extensive deadwood and the large trunk.

The main fault in my opinion is that the ramification is too dense and the branches have a perfect round shape, and this is in total contradiction with the idea of a harsh condition. In harsh conditions, trees don't develop a foliage so lush that it would put a tropical tree to shame. And there are no perfectly round foliage pads in harsh conditions either.

The other fault, as you mentioned, is the boring, featureless, and excessive deadwood. It would be a good subject for Kimura to work on.

This tree is a perfect example of mindlessly applying advanced techniques, without any artistic concept. The ramification of this juniper is amazing, I've never seen foliage pads so mature, but it is all useless here. To improve the tree, most of it will have to be cut off, so decades of work is wasted.

Great subject for discussion.
 
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Attila Soos

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My first post was from the perspective that bonsai is an expression of the essence of nature. The tree looks anything but natural.

However since we need to be open-minded here, we could look at this tree from a totally different perspective: bonsai as decorative art.

Decorative art forms have little to do with naturalness. They strive for pleasing shapes, texture, rhythm, colors. Just think of some of the Oriental gardens with trees displaying round, topiary-like foliage pads, neatly trimmed.

From that perspective, the tree is a good expression of this particular taste. The arrangement of the foliage pads is nice, and there is a pleasing contrast between the red live vein and white deadwood. It's totally abstract, neat, playful. It shows man's striving for perfection and his domination of nature.

This is all against my taste, it repulses me, but nevertheless, some people love this style.

Edit: this is why it is so important to understand what is behind a particular work, before passing judgment. I could say: the creator of this tree completely failed to express the image of an old tree growing in harsh conditions. But it may be that he had absolutely no intention to create such an image. In which case, I am the one who failed to understand what is the whole point here: to create abstract, decorative, geometrical forms that remotely resemble a tree. In short, a topiary.
 
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Brent

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I am trying to point out the good things and then the bad things about this tree.


This tree is a perfect example of mindlessly applying advanced techniques, without any artistic concept. The ramification of this juniper is amazing, I've never seen foliage pads so mature, but it is all useless here. To improve the tree, most of it will have to be cut off, so decades of work is wasted.

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I couldn't agree more. Cast your minds back a few weeks to the thread on pinching. This is precisely what I was talking about. If you form pads by pinching only, they tend to get higher and higher and expose all the structure underneath, but they are totally dead inside. This tree hasn't been in 'show' condition in decades and the pads would have to be totally rebuilt. By using Boon's technique of deliberate pruning of each shoot, this would have been avoided and a much more natural appearance would result.

Brent
EvergreenGardenworks.com
see our blog at http://BonsaiNurseryman.typepad.com
 

Martin Sweeney

Chumono
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BonsaiNut asked "what do you think about the overall composition - tree & pot?"

I think that the repetition of the cloud motif of the pot in the shape of the foliage pads is very harmonious, which is why I do not like it. I would like to see a shallower, more masculine pot. Maybe a longer pot as well, to show the tree as being part of an environment.

Of course, as has been stated, the foliage pads would need some simplification and a good wiring to create less abundant foliage and more natural, less preened appearance. Also allow for some light and air into the inner branches. Changing the appearance of the foliage would further necessitate a pot change.

The deadwood is almost a blank canvas. I agree to what has already been stated.

The back is hard to imagine as a viable viewing side. Too bad, the picture shows some interest to the deadwood back there.

Regards,
Martin
 

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