The epic Bonsai tournament was this weekend at the Portland Art Museum. Christopher Guest could have easily gone this direction rather than the canine direction for his film, “Best in Show.” It was an interesting scene to say the least. A large room filled with 40 manicured mini-trees. I want a Bonsai to cultivate and shape! The more interesting works were the ones that brought forth the essence of what the craft entails: the improvement of natural beauty using the tools of composition, scale, contrast, and balance.
As unharmonious it will come off as, the thing that astounds me about us humans is how our natural sense of observation is inclined towards getting as close to something as possible to see it. As if being able to observe each individual leaf or needle of a branch will bring us closer to seeing the essence. Much like a Van Gogh or a Monet, the art of Bonsai is best observed at a slight distance, taking in the entirety of the plant. Therein lies the better chance to grasp the horticulturist’s intentions.