When it comes to the promotion of bonsai and it’s exploration as not only an eastern art-form, but an art form capable of being practiced as something uniquely western, no other modern-day western bonsai artist has had more influence than Walter Pall. A tireless teacher and enthusiastic proponent of the “natural style,” Walter’s journeys across the globe helped him form an image of bonsai creation which deviates from the Japanese model and instead focuses on natural forms as the inspiration for bonsai shapes and designs. Having served as an early pioneer in Europe’s bonsai evolution, Walter continues to spread the love of bonsai around the world as he explores the limits of bonsai aesthetics and what it means to truly re-create nature in miniature. With his most recent avant-garde exhibitions in the Diocletian's palace in Split, Croatia as well as in BMW’s flagship office in Berlin, Germany, combined with the exposure Walter’s blog has as the most visited bonsai site on the internet, it’s safe to say no other European artist is pushing as hard or reaching as far. We are anticipating Walter’s contribution of diverse aesthetic and eclectic knowledge as a primary judge at the first Artisans Cup.
Here's a recent chat we had with Walter when we asked him to share a bit about himself and his work.
Where are you from?
Born in Austria, now living in Germany, near Munich
How would you describe your approach to bonsai? (Western style, traditional style, anywhere in between)
I am more open to many styles than some think. The naturalistic style is what I am known for, but I only use it where appropriate. The tree will tell me what style it wants to be.
What inspired you to begin bonsai?
The combination of art, craft, horticulture, apparent difficulty of the matter, closeness to nature, possibility of doing something very long term.
What is your least favorite part of being a bonsai professional?
Very long distance traveling, adjusting, wasting time.
What is your favorite part of being a bonsai professional?
Meeting so many interesting and friendly people around the world, seeing so many great trees, learning so much form others.
Where is the craziest place you’ve traveled for bonsai work?
Belgrade, Serbia was great, Israel a great experience, South Africa and South America very different,
How many days on the road traveling for work do you spend in a year, on average?
50 to 80 days per year I am on travel for bonsai.
What do you feel like you are “known for” in bonsai? What’s your signature as a bonsai professional?
Naturalistic Bonsai Style, Tree inspirations, treating collected material.
What is your favorite North American species and why?
Ponderosa Pine, because of it's character.
What’s one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
That I own a few dozen very Japanese looking trees, which I have styled myself.
Why are you excited to be a judge at the Artisans Cup?
Because this opens a grand new window for bonsai in America and it will go into history as the first Cup.
Why should people submit trees to the Artisans Cup?
Because it is a 'must'. If you are not showing tees there you don't really exist in the serious bonsai world. It is like the Noelanders Trophy now or the Ginkgo Award used to be in Europe.
Learn more about Walter Pall on his website and see him at The Artisans Cup this fall!