Display Challenge 001

Messages
2,776
Reaction score
15
Location
Michigan, USA
USDA Zone
5
Improving upon an idea from another forum, I thought I would take an example of bonsai display and post it for discussion. However, here I would like to see more than just statements that people like it, don't like it, that it is great, or bad. If you like it, tell us why, if you don't like it, tell us why.

In short, study it, understand why it appeals to you or doesn't and share these thoughts with us. Why does it work, why doesn't it? Could it be improved? How?

The following display is hot-linked from AoB's Display Contest.


Bonsai, accent, display, and photograph by Mario Komsta of Poland


Note: Each of these displays were selected for a specific reason (or two).

Will
 
Last edited:
Messages
2,776
Reaction score
15
Location
Michigan, USA
USDA Zone
5
Okay, maybe this one was a little tough....

MAybe this will spark something...


What if the tree was reversed?
 

Attachments

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
Messages
8,987
Reaction score
16,189
Location
Charlotte area, North Carolina
USDA Zone
7B
Not having read Bill's comments I will jump in where angels fear to tread :)

There is something about this display that doesn't feel right to me, and I can't figure it out. The individual components are all high quality - including the trees, the pots and the stands. However I don't like how they all build off of each other. At the bare minimum I would move the accent plant to the foreground (as representative of field grass) and push the smaller bonsai back (representing a distant tree).

Let me mess with this a little when I have more time. I will also write more about what I am thinking with this display.
 
Messages
2,776
Reaction score
15
Location
Michigan, USA
USDA Zone
5
At the bare minimum I would move the accent plant to the foreground (as representative of field grass) and push the smaller bonsai back (representing a distant tree).
Yes, I was hoping someone else would pick up on this.

Displays traditionally are arranged in levels according to where the plants would naturally grow, pines are usually on the highest level, growing on the mountains or cliffs, decidious trees are typically found on the lower lands, the meadows and are usually displayed on the second level, and grasses are typically displayed on the lowest level. The lowest level is closest to the viewer, the highest level is the fartherest away. An excellent article (Bonsai Display 101) on this subject by Andy Rutledge can be seen here.

The levels are meant to add depth and distance and are a result of old painting techniques being carried over into bonsai display, where Westerners used shading and prespective to represent depth in paintings, artists in the east used levels to do so, as can be seen in the example below. A better explaination of this can be seen in this article by Colin Lewis.


Ink Wash by Chang Feng
hotlinked from Wikimedia Commons



Bill Valavanis touched upon the accent being out of place in his statements on this display at AoB. "The small fern accessory plant does not seem necessary in this display, and I personally do not like it in the rear area of the display. Perhaps the artist thought it was necessary to fill the allotted area." Yet, he doesn't dive deeper into the subject.




Will
 
Last edited:

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
Messages
8,987
Reaction score
16,189
Location
Charlotte area, North Carolina
USDA Zone
7B
The more I look at it, the less I like it. The stand of the primary tree overwhelms the other two pieces. The scale seems off for these pieces as a set.

If I had just these three pieces, I would display the primary tree on its own (or with a scroll if I had one) and the two smaller pieces as a smaller two point display (with the grass slightly forward of the tree).
 

Mark

Mame
Messages
149
Reaction score
145
The relationship feels wrong between the tiny accent and the large Bonsai. I would place the accent with the small Bonsai instead. I think the eye movement would be improved and create a more pleasing display.

Mark
 

Ashbarns

Mame
Messages
131
Reaction score
3
Location
Victoria Australia
I find the scene very bland, nothing about it inspires me. The deciduous tree does not compliment the pine in any way and the fact that both trees have rounded canopies kills it for me. The accent plant has no impact on an already mismatched composition. The fact that you turned the pine around shows that the decid. tree is quite rightly being ignored. Both are good trees in their own right and should be viewed as such.
 

Mark

Mame
Messages
149
Reaction score
145
In my opinion, displays with seasonal elements can be more meaningful. A pine Bonsai, by its self, may be representational of winter but may not capture the mood an Artist wants to convey. I would not call this display traditional. This is a very personal expression outside of what we might expect. From a critical point of view the list of faults could be long as Bill Valavanis touched on. Personally, I would take the Shohin and accent out and pair the pine with a Suiseki. Maybe a scroll, maybe not, depending on the feeling I was able to achieve with just the stone and tree. Some people feel that Suiseki should not be displayed with Bonsai. I disagree and even though it may not be currently popular, it works and I love it. One of the most difficult, but rewarding approachs is to look at Art being open to the Artist expression rather then looking first with a critical eye. Once you have looked with a critical eye, it is difficult to go back.

Mark
 

Graydon

Chumono
Messages
717
Reaction score
7
After several days of thought I have an opinion. I like it, and I will explain why. I must first say that I am dreadfully under qualified to pass judgement on displays having seen only a handful in person. I do not think that looking at photos in magazines or books can really qualify someone to pass judgment on the fine art of bonsai display, but that may just be a misinformed opinion.

I find the lighting to be fantastic in this photo, barring the shadows created under the main tree's stand. Those shadows are unavoidable and do not really distract from the composition too much. To me the lighting helps to set the mood and this lighting can either represent a setting sun on the mountains (as if we were north of the composition) or a rising sun just beginning to hit the mountains (as if we were south of the composition). Either concept could work but I prefer the setting sun, it gives me a nice feeling about impending twilight on a early winter's eve. The hot spot in the composition is on the right edge of the pine's pot and slightly spilling on to the base of the tree and kissing the low branch on the right. Placement of this key light was fantastic as it created enough interest with the shadows on the trunk and a nice visual highlight on the tree.

The secondary tree is great on it's own. I am not prepared to discuss the merits of using such a nice tree as an accent but I can say it does convey (to me) the feeling of early winter as the deciduous trees are bare.

I do not mind the accent of grass or it's placement in the composition. I feel it can easily represent a distant meadow that has yet to feel the full effects of winter.

Thanks for starting this thread. I find it challenging and interesting to analyze things like this. Hopefully I can learn something that I can put to use in the future.
 

agraham

Shohin
Messages
276
Reaction score
31
Location
South Texas
USDA Zone
9
I posted a link to this discussion over on the AoB discussion forum.Hopefully,some of the participants from there will join in.

Something may be wrong with the site though,Will...I thought I posted it once and when I checked, it was gone.Is there a delay for posts to appear?

btw...I think this is a great idea and certainly worthy of discussion.I don't have much(none)experience with formal displays though.

My only comment would be that I think the smaller tree is much,much better than the larger and more prominent one.It seems a mismatch for the display.

andy
 
Messages
2,776
Reaction score
15
Location
Michigan, USA
USDA Zone
5
Allthough I hotlinked a picture to discuss from AoB, this discussion really has nothing to do with AoB or the display contest there.



Will
 

agraham

Shohin
Messages
276
Reaction score
31
Location
South Texas
USDA Zone
9
I'm sorry if I did anything wrong Will.Since you also linked the contest directly,I assumed that you wished others to share.My bad.

My second post linking this discussion seemed to work.I can't imagine what I did wrong to make the other one disappear.Any ideas?I'm relatively computer illiterate so any suggestions would be appreciated.

thanks,

Andy
 
Messages
2,776
Reaction score
15
Location
Michigan, USA
USDA Zone
5
No harm done, I just posted it here for discussion instead of at AoB, I do have that option..

The only reason it was linked to AoB is because the picture was hot-linked from there, using such content deserves that the source and artist be named. The discussion has nothing to do, nor was it implied, with AoB or the contest there, it is about the display shown in the first post here.

As far as your post at AoB, I see one there, obviously the second one. That post, most likely like your first, is not relevant to the subject there and suggests that a discussion on the contest is happening here, which is not true. Which is likely why the first disappeared and likely why the second one will.

More on the display later...



Will
 

agraham

Shohin
Messages
276
Reaction score
31
Location
South Texas
USDA Zone
9
Ah...I understand.I tried to be explicit that it was just one of the displays entered in the contest being discussed here.You're probably correct though.Folks might become confused.I sure wouldn't want to lead anyone to another site unless the thread was germane to the intent of the original site.

My apologies,

andy
 
Messages
2,776
Reaction score
15
Location
Michigan, USA
USDA Zone
5
I do not mind the accent of grass or it's placement in the composition. I feel it can easily represent a distant meadow that has yet to feel the full effects of winter.
The brown grass and the bare tree certainly suggest late autumn or winter, a scroll could clarify the season. But does the pine add to the seasonal illusion or not?




Will
 

Graydon

Chumono
Messages
717
Reaction score
7
The brown grass and the bare tree certainly suggest late autumn or winter, a scroll could clarify the season. But does the pine add to the seasonal illusion or not?




Will
Yes it does. Is it your opinion that it does not?
 
Messages
2,776
Reaction score
15
Location
Michigan, USA
USDA Zone
5
Yes it does. Is it your opinion that it does not?
I get a conflict here as the foliage is very lush and very green and the moss is very green as well....I was hoping others could help me out on this?
 
Top Bottom