Listening to Bon-Sai when he talks about his unique approach to bonsai pottery.
Standing on the street and peeking through the skylight window in to Bon-sai’s gallery is like looking at a painting. I can not help thinking about that the shoes, the nonchalant hanging rock and the art books in the shelf are carefully placed to create a background for the many kusamono that are on display in the window. Bon-sai, wich can also translate into ”insignificant disciple”, is probably Tokonames leading artist in bonsai pottery and is often featured at exhibitions in Tokyo and all over Japan. His pots has a deeper symbolic meening and people, even though not remotly interrested in bonsai, stops to look in his gallery while we sit and talk. His creations are, and should be viewed on as art. They appeal to something fundamental instinctivly deep inside of us. He is the first potter I hear saying ”Do not think of the tree when you create the pot. It inhibits your creativity. Its up to the tree master to find a suiting tree.” This might sound very strange for us who have learned that a bonsai potter is just a ”frame maker” who’s work starts when the tree is ready. But Bon-Sai talks about this way of thinking as the thought that will change the sleeping art of bonsai in Japan. ”The pot equals the tree in symbolic meaning. They are both reflecting ourselves. The container as us, and the tree as our ideal.” He means that by twisting the roles and forcing the tree artist to challenge this approach to bonsai we will see a new more avantgarde and modern style of bonsai be borned. And many tree masters agree with him and he is busy making pots for them, keep on challenging with new ideas and concepts. Bon-sai always returns to the word "Tamashi", wich translates to ”life energy”. That's what permeates his work. He shows me a pot that almost looks inflated as if it was breathing. Another symbolizes the everlasting destruction of all living things. Another is waves of silver and gold that sweep along a rough cut oval. He works only in clay from Tokoname, but as he ignored all forms of participation in keeping the tradition-based Tokoname cooperative alive, he gets his clay by detour. It is consistently for Bon-sai to do things differently. He has no cell or smartphone, e-mail or computer and his business cards are handwritten on rice paper. In his process of making pots, he currently uses no tools, only his hands. Creating a pot is not about building, he says. It's about scaling off. Remove all that is not needed. What remains at the end is the pot. Before we leave, he shows us his garden, or rather a laboratory. In old computers, cans and aquariums it grows freely by self-esteem. I see some bonsai, but in pots that doesn’t resemble anything I have seen before. Prior to his exhibitions, he usually chooses to lift out parts from the garden and compose with. His studio is full of molds, that hasn’t been used since his father quit making pots. He slides up the door to the street and bows goodbye. I turn around and see him still standing there watching us disappear around the corner. I have found a new brother in clay.
Two new pots by Bon-Sai. Waiting for pick up.
The ”breathing pot”.
Pots and plants displayed in the window of Bon-Sai’s gallery, situated along the popular ”Pottery Walk”.
Bon-Sai also likes to work with kusamono and ikebana since those arts has taken a step forward and have modern, avantgarde branches. It’s his hope and mission to push bonsai in the same direction.
An early creation from Bon-Sai..
Bon-Sai in his kusamono garden where things grow wild until they are picked out for an exhibition.
Thank you Bon-Sai san for sharing your inspiring work.