Something old, something new

January 23, 2008

We held the Bay Island Bonsai 9th annual exhibit this past weekend, and for the third year in a row Mas was a guest exhibitor. Boon gives him free rein to do whatever he wants, so last year he made an entirely contemporary display with his Suiseki Art piece “Akebono”. This year Mas chose to combine a very traditional suiban display with one of his recent paintings. After creating the display, he titled it “Silence” (静寂 seijaku).

When we were creating this display Mas first tried a more traditional approach, using a calligraphy scroll that his mother had given us. The scroll has the character 然 (zen) which comes from the word shizen, or “nature”. It didn’t look good – the calligraphy was very strong and overpowered the stone, stealing all the attention. On top of that, the meaning of calligraphy is an essential part of it – you aren’t using it just for its visual appearance. Something essential is lost if the great majority of viewers don’t know the meaning.

So we started looking at some of Mas’ recent paintings from last summer. This painting was not made with any intention of displaying it with a suiseki, but when we tried it with this stone and suiban we realized how well they complemented each other.

Mas deliberately avoided giving a descriptive name or label to either the stone or painting . Having a description such as “coastal rock” or “waterpool” limits the viewer’s own imagination. For me, this display is a memory of morning on the Klamath river, surrounded by forest, with the mist rising off the water. For a fellow BIB member (of more practical bent perhaps) the painting seemed like a micrograph of the stone itself.

Having a suiseki display among bonsai gives a moment’s rest while going though the exhibit. In the midst of the trees is a quiet clearing where you can gather your thoughts and go on refreshed.

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