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Thursday, March 17, 2016

American Bonsai Movement

Questionnaire about American Bonsai Movement
answered by Walter Pall
I was asked by the Denver bonsai folks to answer the questions below. So here it is. Don’t call me opinionated if you ask my opinion. Don’t take these as facts, they are just opinions of a European who spent more than tree years in America, spread over more than 60 trips, who has seen 40 states and met thousands of bonsai folks in the USA.
  1. How would you define the American Bonsai Movement and how does it differ from the established Japanese approach to the art form.
American Bonsai movement is not quite here yet. I can see some signs that it is coming. The general bonsai scene is very much into a Japanese mode of doing bonsai. Many actually do want to practice a Japanese art form many don’t care about Japanese art and think they are doing just bonsai. Well, they do bonsai the Japanese way, or rather what they were led to believe is THE Japanese way. John Naka And Yuji Yoshimura were both trained in Japan around the 1950ies to 60ies. They came back to America and influenced the American scene (and also the European one) heavily up to today. In their ground braking books they showed basically what they had learned in Japan. And this was state of the art of the 1960ies. Things have changed in japan since then, but Americans by and large still do what they were taught. And this is a retro. Nothing against retro. Everybody can do what they like. They should know, however, that it is a retro - also called ‘Neoclassical Bonsai Style’. Modern bonsai nowadays  is becoming mainstream in Japan (in Europe it is since 20 years). Only since a few years this is also visible in America. But this is not American Bonsai, it is modern Japanese bonsai in America. Many young folks have grasped quickly that there is something new to jump onto. These young folks will change the scene in the USA dramatically within the next decade, I believe. Why am I so sure. Well, this exact scenario has happened in Europe in the past twenty years - for the same reasons.
Japanese bonsai is about discipline, knowing rules, respecting rules, respecting masters, respecting the old ones, not sticking out your head, not trying to be something special, something different etc.. This has made Japan successful. But in art it is a burden. Japanese bonsai is not treated as an art form. It is a well defined craft. This is changing right now in America.  In the Eastern view a good artist is one who does what he was taught so well that his master could have done it. In the Western view an artist is one who tries very hard and successfully to find something new, to be different, to excel, to be a rebel. This is the contrary of what one should do in Japan. This schizophrenic situation is causing a lot of confusion and constant pain in the bonsai world. Just go to some public bonsai forums and see for yourself. I see a gradual movement to the Western way of looking at art coming into bonsai. And this will open the door to a new world.
  1. Can you list/discuss any horticultural practices, styles, species, exhibiting practices etc., if any that are specific to the American Bonsai Movement.
In Japan by and large the world is divided into gardeners and stylists. The gardeners prepare material, mostly from seed or cutting. The stylists then do the final styling. The finished product is sold to the general public. Almost all broadleaved trees come from this source. And so do most conifers. The trees are well developed according to the existing standards with good nebari, taper, branches in the right position  etc. This leads to a great deal of uniformity though. Collected stuff is almost nonexistent with conifers and is definitely not used for broadleaved trees.
Contrary to this there are some bonsai gardeners in America but they do not produce great numbers nor do they all produce great quality. Americans are gardeners and stylists usually. Very few trees are styled and sold as finished products. Typically the American bonsaiist buys raw material and tries to style it himself. Americans go to a regular nursery and hunt for some potential bonsai material there. In the past ten or so years collected trees, namely conifers play a very important role in America. Many folks are starting to acquire the skills to handle these trees. The skills are very different from those for well established material. Slowly it leaks through that these skills are not really widely available in Japan for the sheer lack of material and one has to look at other sources for learrning. There is some import of Asian trees but they are rare and expensive. So Americans are forced to work with what they can get. Combined with the notion that one should try new ways of styling this is leading and will lead more to bonsai that will look different than Japanese ones.
The horticultural skills of Japanese are great and we have learned a lot so far from them. There is still more though. Many secrets are leaking though. The Japanese gardener wants to sell his stuff and not tell you how to grow it yourself.
Americans are forced to use more and more of their own material and form it in a special way. An American way will evolve. More and more will do modern bonsai. They will think that this is very American. Well it is state of the art modern Japanese bonsai done in America. There are a few old masters who work in a truly American style. I can think of Nick Lenz and Dan Robinson first. They are respected but there is not a great movement to follow their lead - yet. Arthur Joura at the North Carolina Arboretum is successfully propagating a naturalistic way of styling indigenous American material. The naturalistic bonsai movement finds hundreds if not thousands of new adherents in the past years in America as elsewhere. As there is no such thing as THE Japanese bonsai way there will be no one American bonsai way. There will be more ways than at present and the ways will differ from the Japanese more than now. Americans will have to learn that it is not like a religion. You do NOT have to make a permanent choice. You can do bonsai in many different ways in parallel and be happy.
At the moment the American bonsaiists have a tendency to prefer conifers over broadleaved trees. While outstanding conifer raw material is now available in world class quality broadleaved trees are not. There are a couple of folks who are very skilled in collecting the best material in the world - but it is all conifers. There is a need for someone to discover the untapped wealth of broadleaved trees. It cannot be that a country like Croatia which is smaller than New Hampshire has more  collected world class broadleaved bonsai than the whole of America.
Exhibits in America are changing these days. The quality of the trees is getting much better steadily and also the quality of the way of exhibiting. Twenty years ago competition was frowned upon by and large. When awards were given just about everyone got one - if only for daring to enter. This is very American but does not create quality in my eyes while it might create happy folks. This situation is changing at the moment and I can see more and more genuine competition which will create quality.
Money plays a big role in America. It doe not so much in bonsai so far, but it will more and more. The days are over of ‘bonsai for free’. If a bonsai is judged according to impression it is best to start with material that already is very impressive - and expensive. Good trees will cost a lot more than most folks can imagine at the moment.
A great number of bonsai folks in America start their trees from scratch and are proud of it. To purchase an already developed piece of material is frowned upon in many quarters. Folks will find out that the key to have a very good bonsai one day is to start with very good material. There will always be the ones who grow bonsai from seeds and cuttings and go to normal nurseries to buy sticks. But they will become a small minority.
The American bonsai scene by and large is a hobbyists scene. A very strong professional scene will grow. It will be clear soon that hobbyists can hardly compete with this. So there will be a stronger division than at the moment.
  1. Where do you see the American Bonsai Movement trending?
I see it trending towards quality, art, competition, pricey material, pricey bonsai. I see a whole lot of experiments coming which will lead into a few successful novelties. At the moment most would agree that Japan is leading, insiders know that bonsai is more or less dying in Japan. Europe is very strong, still growing, some Asian countries are coming up, China will eventually play an important role as soon as they find back to their roots in bonsai. America is still a bit sleeping. It is about to wake up. I believe that in twenty years America can lead the bonsai world.
  1. Are there any thoughts, opinions or observations, apart from the above that you may have relative to this discussion?
I can see a generational development. Old folks are conservative by nature. Young folks are rebellious, by nature. The scene is still dominated by the old guard. Many of them are fundamentalists and they do not help to further new developments. But they will disappear - by nature.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Duchamp's Fountain of the bonsai world.

Duchamp's Fountain of the bonsai world.

Recently at the Artisans Cup 2015 in the  Art Museum of Portland, Oregon this piece was among the 71  bonsai exhibited. It is by David Crust, who is a student of Nick Lenz. I am sure that this was the most confusing if not disturbing piece of the whole exhibit. I was asked by many what I had thought of it as judge. In my answers I called it 'Duchamp's Fountain of the bonsai world'.

So what is Duchamps's Fountain? I have to digress here to make this more understandable: In the year 1917 the art world was in turmoil and much discussion was going on what was art, what was good at, what was not art and who made these decisions. Up to around 1880 the world was in order. Art was something that was beautiful and that appealed to most people. Painting and sculpture were realistic, up to photographic realism. This was more or less consensus among the art world and the general public. In the following decades the art world fell apart. Impressionists dared to paint outside in natural light and painted the world as they saw it and not as they were told to see it. Some did not paint in strokes but painted in what today is pixels - unheard of. Some painted things that one could hardly recognize any more. Then some painted abstract - end of civilization! All sort of 'insanity',abounded.

There was an open fight whether the new stuff was art. The art museums decided that it was not. So the new artists created their own art museums which still exist in Paris and other places as 'secession'. At art exhibits a strong judging system tried to avoid influx of unhealthy art.The general public decided that it hurts the eyes. So who decided what was art and good art? The museum Directors thought they did and they did indeed by exclusion. The gallerists did by selecting what they thought could be sold. They were astounded that the 'naive' Americans bought all this crap because they had no idea what good art was. The general public as always thought that they decided - what the majority liked was good art and what the majority hated was bad art. Nobody asked the artists.

At the most important art exhibit in the world in 1917 in Paris, Marcel Duchamp did the unthinkable. He managed to get into the exhibit what is widely called 'Fountian'. This is a euphemism because it really was a urinal, but the word is so obscene, isn't it. Well, obscene and shocking is what Duchamp wanted dot be. Therefore it should be clalled by it’s real name.

It was a urinal as mass produced industrially with no alterations or additions by the artist. When asked what in the world he was smoking
Duchamps said along the lines 'so many parties think that they decide what art is and should be, nobody has asked the artists. Her is the answer: the artist alone decides what art is. This is a urinal and I call it art, high art, good enough for the most important art exhibit. It is art because I have decided so. Period!.' What a scandal! up to today. Duchamp had invented the ultimate scandal as promoting art and himself. We are now so used to this as it had become commonplace in the art world. But at that time it was a novelty and it took a genius to do that. And Duchmp had invented what is called 'Conceptual Art'. This means that one has to know things to understand it. While eg a nude female or male body as sculpture needs no explanation and is understood by everyone instantly a urinal does need explanation. If one would not know what at this means one could think it is a mistake, it is crap. So ironically the cleaning crew thought after the end of the show and threw the original away. In 2005 around 1400 art historians from around the world congregated and had to vote for the most important piece of at of the past century . Guess what they came up with.

Back to the bonsai world. Yes, this is in a way shocking and it does need explanation. What exactly is it anyway? It is apparently a vintage Kirby vacuum cleaner probably from the fifties in which a nice little larch is planted and an Angel is hanging from it. It is by David Crust but could well have been by Nick Lenz. Is it art? Is it beautiful? It is ugly as good art - much to the surprise of many - does not have to be beautiful. And it is art as it was done by an artist.

It is a statement: 'the bonsai world was in order up to around 1985 when everybody knew what was right and what was wrong. It all could be found in the bonsai bible - John Naka I, Old Testament, John Naka II, New Testament. Everybody knew what was good and what was bad. And then came modern bonsai - they looked more like sculptures than trees. Then naturalism, bonsai looked like trees and not like bonsai - how dare they! Bonsai rules were obsolete. Then penjing - how ugly! Then other strange aberrations like Fairy Tale Bonsai Style. Nobody knows what is right or wring any more. Who decides what is bonsai art and what not? The ones who judge the entries to exhibits do. The judges for the exhibit do. The customers who buy do. The magazines by what they print do. The viewers on the internet do by their 'likes'. Nobody asks the artists.

This is the answer of an artist who says " I, the artist, decide what is art and what is not. This is art, period! It does not matter what others think It is not a democratic decision. If the ordinary person does it it is crap, if the artist does it it is art."

This is a statement that wants to say: the whole world thinks that what they like is good and what they don't like is bad. So what - they don't count. This room is full of vanity, all the bonsai try to be as  beautiful as possible, as impressive as possible. They are craving for the public's attention and for winning awards or fetchng money. And the artists are following the wishes of the public. They create the kind of art that the public wants. This is artistic prostitution!. And this artist clearly shows so.

Like it or not. It will go into the history of bonsai art because it is the clearest statement so far that proves that bonsai is an art form. The discussion is open and will never end - as is the practise in art since ever. We will never again be certain what is good an what is bad. We will have to see what artists come up with.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A personal view on the Fairy Tale Style

Over eigen gevormde en opgekweekte bonsai: A personal view on the Fairy Tale Style: This article depicts my personal view on the so-called Fairy Tale Style put forward by Walter Pall in his article http://walter-pall-bonsai...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Purchase of my images

All images on my sites are strictly for personal viewing only. It is not by accident that you cannot copy them with a mouse click to the right and that you cannot link individual pictures. I want to have full control over my property.

All images are for sale. Most are available in good and very good quality in large files for high resolution prints. The sizes are usually from 1,000 x 2,000 to 2,800 x 4,200 pixels. They are usually prepared for immediate publishing or printing.

I do not offer prints, only downloads are available. The prices per image depend on size, quality, and purpose. Exclusive use is only granted in rare instances. The small versions for net-publishing in size 800 x 800 pixels are usually from 3.- to 5.- US$ per piece. The largest versions around 2,000 x 4,000 are usually from 50.- to 200 US$ per piece. For large numbers discounts can be granted. Method of payment is paypal, credit cards cannot be accepted.

If you are interested in images I need exact information:

section: e.g. "3 Super Shots Broadleaved Trees 1"
image number: e.g. "2007-04-Dsc1059v" you find this number on lower left under the images.
size: what size do you need?

Then I need to know what you plan to do with the images. You will get an offer then.
Interested? Write a mail to

Sunday, June 22, 2014



I am willing to perform demonstrations in the standard way. I will work on all sorts of trees in all sorts of forms.

Please check out Material for Bonsai Demonstrations to see what one should offer. If in Europe, I can bring my own material. In North America I can sometimes find the right material for you. I can work on very complex trees in the standard two to four hours if I have one or two assistants. I try to make a demonstration educational and entertaining at the same time.

With assistant(s) it's even possible to work with several trees in parallel.

I normally need all kinds of wire, preferably copper wire from 1 to 6 mm. Power tools: a regular die grinder, like Makita, speed 20,000 to 25,000 turns per minute, preferably speed adjustable, opening for 1/4 inch or 6 mm bits; several bits for this grinder. Another Dremel like grinder with 3mm opening and bits. A small torch which is used for jewelry or glass work or also for the kitchen. Sometimes I need a large torch which is used for regular household or craft. It should have a long flexible shaft. This torch is available in any hardware store. In addition there should be an assortment of normal bonsai tools available. A turn table which really turns and which can be fixed is also a good idea.

Demonstration of new techniques

Lots of folks are quite interested to learn about new and often drastic techniques for bonsai styling. This can be exiting for the audience and the teacher. It should be assured though, that the audience is really advance and capable to grasp what is going on. An innocent audience will think this is terrible, although it is really quite professional. Such demonstrations are NOT a good idea for general club members and certainly not for the broad public. I will NOT do this on big conventions.

Extended Tree Inspiration (Tree Critique)

This is the starting segment of the International Bonsai Academy.

It is called 'tree critique', but I prefer the term 'Tree Inspiration' - it is more positive and tells what is really happening.

Instead of standard demonstrations or workshops I have developed another concept for a major lecture: People bring one or several trees to the public critique. The trees can be in all stages of development: outright raw material, intermediate and 'finished' bonsai. They can be in all variations of quality: very poor, normal, very good. I usually work on a stage in front of a seated audience.

Normally I get from 10 to 30 trees for such a lecture. I then thoroughly analyze every single tree and discuss it with the audience if there is interest. Make sure that everybody understands that a tree critique is about hearing the truth about a tree, as I see it. It is not so  much about what a student wants to do but what I would do personally if I had to work on this tree. Such a session can last from two hours to four hours. This can be extended to up to 50 trees for a full day. While I will definitely say what I would do nobody is forced to follow me. Everybody can make up their own mind about this and make their own conclusions. I only try hard to stat people think more than they often do.

I will mainly speak abut artistic concepts and stress point which go beyond the regular well known 'rules'. I will also speak in depth about horticultural aspects if necessary.

A Tree Inspiration is of value for the person who owns that tree, that's clear. It must be made understood that in addition it is of similar value to all others who are watching. Often others are more ready to accept change to a certain tree than the owner. It is like education your neighbors kids and having problems with your own.

The advantages over a regular demo: very educational, very entertaining, no cost to the club for demo trees, no killing of trees on stage, no problems of providing the right kind of demo material, interesting for all levels of experience, from outright novices to masters. Even people who do not practice bonsai for themselves find these sessions very educational and entertaining. It is like watching a cooking show on TV without ever cooking.The advantages over a regular workshop: more educational than a normal workshop, more participants possible, in fact, the number is almost unlimited, participants with all levels of experience find it interesting.

The advantage for clubs is that a real lot of people, like even 50 or more can be invited and asked to participate and pay a fee. Some clubs charge more for people who bring a tree. So many folks can watch an event which usually teaches more than a regular workshop and pay much less.

While an Extended Tree Inspiration can well be a stand-alone event it usually is followed by a workshop. Some or all participants who have watched the Tree Inspiration work on some or all of these trees afterwards. This could be in the afternoon of the same day or on following day. If I have one or two good assistants to help the advanced beginners or intermediate students I can handle from 12 up to 15 students per workshop. Again this can help to bring the cost per student down a lot.

Beginners can learn a real lot in the Tree Critique. I suggest that it would be better for beginners to listen to this rather than taking a workshop immediately. If there are many beginners in the following workshop the number can only be 6 to 8 folks.

It must be stressed that my way of running  workshops is different form what is often done: I make it clear what options are on each tree but I try to never touch it. The students work and I watch them - not the other way around. I only help when really necessary and when asked, but I will not style somebodies tree in a workshop. It must be clear that I am trying not to be a bonsai fundamentalist. While it  is made clear what I would do personally every student can do what they want to do in my workshops.

I think this concept can dramatically change the mainstream demonstrations and regular workshops. I have the strong feeling that something must be done here. The public obviously does not accept the old-fashioned way as it used to anymore.

One idea is to have several masters doing a critique on the same trees on stage. Like one hour master #1, one hour master #2 etc.. A very interesting way of doing it is that the same tree is critiqued by master #1 then master #2 adds to this. The next tree is started by master #2 and master #1 adds to it. etc..This could be quite interesting and entertaining. People in all stages of expertise should want to see this. We could get back the major part of the audience which we are loosing with standard demonstrations.

If doing this for a whole day or even for two consecutive days it is advisable to include some additional presentation. It could be about 'Bonsai Styles', 'Development of Broadleaved Trees', Development of Conifers', 'Fairy Tale Bonsai Style', 'Bonsai Photography' and similar. l Usually I do not only speak about a specific tree only but add some subjects whenever appropriate. This could be bonsai philosophy, general design and art concepts applied to bonsai etc..

BTW: in case you are worried about the general tone of such a critique, I do know about the cultural differences. A critique in Europe will be much more direct than in America. An obvious amateurish tree will get moderate critique to not hurt a beginner too much. But I call a spade a spade in the end.

Tree critique (which I call Tree Inspiration)

This is the normal procedure as handled in North America. It can be public or private. I walk through an exhibit or a collection and speak about all or most trees. I analyze the tree as I see it and give constructive criticism. I say what I would do if it were my tree.

It must be understood that to be of value a tree critique is not an exercise in diplomacy. It is not about being nice to trees or people. it is about analyzing trees and giving workable advice. Sometimes people misunderstand this. It is more about what the artist thinks and not so much about what the student thinks.

The number of participants for a tree critique is almost unlimited. It can be one person; it can be a dozen to twenty if in an exhibit area where there is only so much room for the audience; it can be hundreds if the critique is on stage in a big hall and the trees are delivered on stage.

If you worry about the tone, see above.


I offer regular workshops too. Every workshop begins with a thorough tree critique of all trees. This is interesting not only to the owner of the tree, but also to the other workshop participants and possibly a silent observing public. It can take an hour or more. Then people should start working on their tree themselves.

I do not touch people's trees normally, I do not make the decision for them, I give them several options, I do not style the tree for them. I inspire people to do what they really can do for themselves. I want people to walk away with the strong feeling that they have done it themselves and they can do it again. If you want people to have a good tree in the end which really the master has styled, then take another artist. If you want people to really learn something in a workshop, you can take me.

The maximum number of participants varies:

5 or 6 beginners. They must have a basic understanding of bonsai and they must have had some introductory courses.
8 intermediate.
10 advanced to very advanced.
The material used is totally up to the organizers. I work with anything. It is a good idea to provide material which is challenging for the level of the participants. It is not a good idea to bring a tree which the owner knows exactly what to do with. It is perfectly OK to bring several trees to choose from. 'Impossible' trees are OK. Often they are possible, sometimes not; bring an extra one for this case.

For more reading about material please check out: Garbage for Dinner at Bonsai Talk

Silent observers are welcome if the workshop participants agree.

Powerpoint (slide) presentations

I need a regular PC with Windows an MS Power Point installed. It can be a desk-top. If the audience is small, I can present right from the monitor screen. If the audience is larger there should be a connection between the PC and a large TV set or a projector.

Presentations available:

Development of conifers: from the tree on the mountain to a 'masterpiece' in several examples. Detailed explanation what to do and what not. See some examples in the gallery of what to expect. From one hour to 90 minutes.
Development of non-conifers: similar to above.
Trees in nature and what we can learn from them. America: 45 to 90 minutes.
Trees in nature and what we can learn from them. Europe: 45 to 90 minutes.
Bonsai styling seminar, naturalistic style: 45 to 90 minutes.
Any other general subject that you agree with me well in advance. I will try to prepare a professional presentation.

Unfortunately I cannot do old-fashioned slide presentations with 32/24 mm slides anymore.


I have developed the concept of moderating several artists who work in parallel on stage.

A single standard demonstration often can be quite boring. Either the artist is not a good entertainer although being a good artist. Or there comes the time of endless carving or wiring and everybody falls asleep or leaves the room.

When several artists are working in parallel there is always something going on which is of interest. A moderator makes sure that there is not a boring moment, that all artists can speak when they have something to say, that the public can ask questions or even participate in a discussion if feasible, that everything runs smoothly. A moderator can even be translator at the same time. We all were bored before by poor translations on stage. It is very helpful if the moderator knows what he speaks about.

A good moderator makes sure that the work of the artist is shown in the best light and that the audience gets the best possible show at the same time.

This concept can also make the sometimes outrageous costs of demonstrations obsolete. It is a good idea to bring several new artists on stage in parallel. They will be happy to do it for nothing. A good moderator still makes a remarkable event out of this. It is quite possible to have a big star and one or several much smaller stars on stage at the same time. In Munich in spring of 2004 Kimura was on stage with several second liners at the same time, moderated by myself.

Development of collections

I am willing to work on trees of individuals and collections. These can be raw material and also 'finished' trees. It can be an outright new styling or an enhancement of an existing styling. I will also do re-styling. The trees can be good to very good and even world class. I will work on almost all species.

One-to-one workshops

This can be anything. The client decides what he/she wants me to do.

Podium discussion

In front of small to very large public I can discuss anything with the public or with several other competent participants.

Bonsai Academy

On a regular basis visits to your club to run a succession of coherent courses. These sessions could include all of the above.

The aim is to get away from these one off workshops or lectures which don't contribute all that much. Only successive lectures will make sure that the students really progress.

Friday, June 20, 2014

about me

Here is how to contact me:


address: Walter Pall
Sonnenhgamer Str. 6
82544 Egling-Attenham

from Germany : 08176-455
from the USA: 011-49-8176-455
from anywher else: 0049-8176-455

A well-meaning person has written this about me:

Walter Pall was born in 1944 in Austria, he is married to Hanna, with one son, living near Munich, Germany, in sight of the Alps where he grew up and still loves to ski. Since 1980 Walter has been busy with bonsai as a hobby. After a career as top manager in the Electronics and Consulting Industry he finally decided in 1990 to become a part time bonsai professional.
Today Walter is one of the most popular bonsai artists who has performed on most international stages. He has visited the vast majority of European countries and also South Africa, Australia, Canada and the United States; he even appeared in Israel and in Argentina and Brazil.
His lectures are a treat. Walter's philosophy about demos is first and foremost to provide a basis of high quality bonsai work, add a substantial amount of explanation for the audience to clearly understand his development process, and also tell amusing anecdotes along the way. Altogether this makes for an entertaining and professional show. Nobody falls asleep in Walter's lectures. Walter often is called a walking encyclopedia on bonsai and he shares his knowledge freely. Walter also loves to lead workshops where he sets the main focus on teaching the artistic side of bonsai. In the past years Walter has also established himself as the key moderator for international bonsai conventions. A specialty of Walter are his tree critiques which eh calls 'tree inspiration'. He analyses anything from stick in a yogurt cup to world class bonsai. Walter gives clear indications of pros and cons and describes ways to continue working with the trees.
He is known worldwide for the quality of his bonsai creations. Walter has received several dozens national and international awards for his beautiful, dramatic bonsai. He has won the most prestigious Crespi Cup Award of Italy for his well known Rocky Mountain Juniper, and has come in among the top six, every time he has entered. He has also won second and third and other places places in the Gingko Cup Awards of the Belgium bonsai competition held every two years.
Walter was one of the first Europeans to work with indigenous species, which he collects in his beloved Alpine mountains He now owns a collection of about 1000 quality trees in varying stages of development and keeps a store reserve of about 1000 handmade pots to compliment the bonsai. Besides his famous conifers he is also well known for his beautiful deciduous trees. Walter's bonsai usually are strong, powerful trees which he frequently forms in natural shapes. The longer he has been involved with tree development, the more he has moved away from traditional bonsai styling to his own concepts of design. Only those who have actually visited his garden know that he also has an impressive collection of shohin bonsai.
It will surprise many that Walter considers himself an amateur, and he means it. While he apparently tries hard to work professionally with whatever he does, the aim is not commercial success. He does not style trees to sell them later. He does it for his own joy. This is the reason why he entertains one of the most comprehensive bonsai collections around.

For many years Walter has been writing a lengthy and comprehensive encyclopedia on bonsai. Hopefully some day this will be published. He has also written more than 100 articles that have been published in Western bonsai magazines. Walter is a very good photographer and is able to provide many high quality pictures to illustrate his articles. He is also a very active, vocal participant on the internet in the bonsai scene.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Der Märchenstil - German

     Der Märchenstil 
von Walter Pall
übersetzt von Gerog Maurer  

Als im Sommer 2013 die internationale Bonsai Akademie bei Sebastijan Sandev stattfand, bemerkten Sebastijan und ich, dass unsere Ideen über die Gestaltung einiger Bäume so weit vom Standard-Bonsai entfernt waren, dass wir es besser als etwas anderes benennen.

Wie das alles entstanden ist:

"Sarah und John verließen am Nachmittag ihr Zuhause, weil ihre Mutter ihnen gesagt hatte, sie könne sie nicht mehr versorgen und würde sie deshalb an reiche Bauern verkaufen, welche sie wie Sklaven halten würden. Also liefen die Kinder Hand in Hand in Richtung des Waldes. Sie liefen tiefer und tiefer in den Wald hinein und wurden ziemlich verängstigt. Es wurde dunkel und der Wald machte es sogar noch dunkler. Die Kinder fühlten sich schutzlos gegenüber all den wilden Tieren und Geistern und den Bösen. Sie wurden sehr müde und schließlich sahen sie in der Ferne einen riesigen Baum. Sie waren eingeschüchtert von der Größe, dem gewaltigen Stamm und den Ästen die so dick waren wie andere Bäume und sich in alle Richtungen bewegten wie ein Oktopus. Sie trauten sich fast nicht näher ranzugehen. Da sie keine Wahl hatten, kamen sie endlich an dem Baum an, welcher sogar noch gewaltiger war, als er zuvor wirkte. Sie krochen über die enormen Wurzeln und fanden einen Spalt im Stamm, der groß genug war, um sie beide zu beherbergen. Dort fühlten sie sich sicher und schliefen ein. Dann, um Mitternacht, wachten sie auf, weil der Baum in einer tiefen, sanften Stimme zu ihnen sprach und sie bat rauszukriechen. Er wollte ihnen den Wald zeigen und sie all den Tieren und den anderen Bäumen vorstellen. Daraufhin wussten Sarah und John, dass sie an einem sicheren Ort sind und liebten den Baum. Von diesem Moment an bedeuteten Bäume etwas ganz besonderes für sie."

Das ist der Baum, den wir zu erschaffen versuchen. Er hat nicht viel damit zu tun, was Bonsai normalerweise ist, außer, dass er sich in Behältern, meistens nicht einmal in Schalen, befindet. Er ist gewaltig, gespenstisch, grotesk und erscheint monströs, obwohl er gleichzeitig sehr warm und freundlich ist, ein Baum so hässlich, dass er wieder schön ist. Er weiß nicht, dass er hässlich ist und es ist ihm auch egal. Viel wichtiger ist Freundschaft und Zuflucht. Es ist ein großzügiger Baum mit einem sehr weichen Kern in einer sehr harten Schale.

Wie macht man sich nun daran, einen Baum im Märchenstil zu gestalten? Am allerwichtigsten ist das Material. Im Allgemeinen macht es keinen Sinn, jede Form und jeden Stil den man sich gerade zur Gestaltung vorgenommen hat jedem beliebigen Material aufzuzwingen. Der Baum wird einem erzählen was er werden will. Was man als Bonsai-Material bekommt ist allgemein nicht geeignet für diese Art von Stil, es ist eher geeignet um einen Standard-Bonsai zu gestalten. Aber das "unmögliche" Material, der monströse, gesammelte Baum der so viele Optionen hat, aber keine wirklich gute, der letzte Hund, sie alle können gutes Material für den Märchenstil sein. Der große Vorteil dieses Stils ist, dass ansonsten wertloses Material für besondere Resultate genutzt werden kann. Das ist aber nicht der wahre Grund um in diesem Stil zu arbeiten. Einige werde das jedoch behaupten, aber wir sollten sie ignorieren. Sie würden es sowieso nicht verstehen. Es muss etwas in diesem chaotischen Baum sein das man sieht, was Sinn ergibt. Jedoch Sinn auf eine Märchenstil-Weise und nicht auf eine Bonsai-Weise. Es kann ein monströses Nebari sein, oder sehr merkwürdig wachsende Äste, oder große Wunden die unheimliche Höhlen sein könnten.

Hier einige Bonsai im Märchenstil:

Was ist der Unterschied zwischen dem Märchenstil und dem Naturalistischen Stil? Betrachten wir zuerst, was sie gemeinsam haben. Beide sind sehr kontrovers. Das ist immer gegeben, sobald etwas das Bonsai-Establishment bedroht. Beide bestehen bereits seit einer langen Zeit, wenn auch ziemlich unbemerkt. Die Chinesen betreiben den Naturalistischen Stil und den Märchenstil schon seit einer langen Zeit. Beide scheinen einfach zu sein, sind aber schwieriger zu meistern als der sogenannte klassische Bonsai im Neoklassischen Bonsai Stil. Beide streben danach, einen Baum zu erschaffen und unter keinen Umständen einen typischen Bonsai. Beide wollen dem Baum eine Seele geben, damit er sprechen kann. Jetzt die Unterschiede. Während im Naturalistischen Stil jemand normalerweise versucht etwas Schönes zu erschaffen, ist das nicht das Ziel beim Märchenstil. Dort versucht man etwas eindrucksvolles, einzigartiges und dominantes auf eine freundliche Art zu gestalten.
Dies befindet sich alles noch in den Kinderschuhen und es wird noch viel mehr Beispiele geben. Dies soll nur die Diskussion ins Rollen bringen. 
Hier noch weitere Bilder von Bäumen in der Nature, die als Vorbilder dienen könnten.