Hours With Bonsai
by Juan Guillermo Pérez – April 2020
Bonsai is art, they say. Yet, I don´t see myself as an artist, that would be quite pretentious and probably a bit beyond my comfort zone. When I do bonsai, the master is the tree, not me.
In Shinto, which lies in every aspect of Japanese culture, each object has its own Kami, the soul of things created. The art of bonsai is the result of observation, learning and meditation. Zen aims to discipline the mind until it becomes the owner of its own self through internal contemplation of its own nature.
The world is the trilogy of earth, man and God, which is why the triangular shape of some bonsai is just its perfect representation. The lowest part being the earth, then the man and the third one is God, or the gods (as I prefer to conceive it).
My experience with bonsai is a perfect mix of active meditation, pleasure and communion with nature. As it might happen with an artist (which I insist, I am definitely not), his relationship with his or her art piece comes after a process of feeling, making, thinking and some soul. Every time I start to work on a tree, I first look at it and ask him for his permission to touch.
Zen doesn’t believe in logic, nor in common sense. It is an experience that doesn’t know God, even though it does not deny its existence either. Zen does not have a credo at all. If there is something Zen believes in, it would just be the void.
Which is why trying to put in words what I feel or sense when working with trees would be useless. And soundless as well. I only know that when I get closer to the tree and start interacting with him, it just takes me to a place I feel I belong. It is probably one of those places whose location we don’t know, like that place within us where secrets are kept.
Juan Guillermo Pérez
About the artist: Juan Guillermo Pérez is a nature observer and tree lover. He felt in love with bonsai while living in Tokyo, for a few years and then studied later on in his family hometown of Medellín, Colombia. He is a Bonsai maker since 2014 and he also works on business and entrepreneurship strategy.