N.p. Publisher not known, 2007. 1st. Lucite. First Limited Edition. Oblong 4to (12" x 17"). 125 vellum pages, depicting illustrations of tools and methods for bonsai. Text in Chinese and English. Thick hinged opaque lucite covers with etched title in chinese and english on front board. Minor scratches else a fine copy. A scarce manual for the training of bonsai trees; no copies currently available on the market, no copies have come to auction and no copies are listed in online institutions. This is a heavy book and additional shipping may be required. Item #17497
Shen Shaomin, born in 1956, is a member of the artistic diaspora who left China in the wake of Tiananmen after 1989; he is based in Sydney and Beijing. Shaomin's art is designed to make people think about the world around them and the impact that they have on the world, as individuals and as members of the human race. He studies the explicit brutality of human nature through his multimedia work, first becoming famous for creating fantastic creatures out of skeletons. His multimedia artwork has been seen in exhibitions around the world. In 2007, Shaomin made his West Coast debut at the Frey Norris Gallery in San Francisco, at which was exhibited work from his recent project Bonsai. In Bonsai, the artist exposes the process of imposing beauty on bonsai by imprisoning the trees within cage-like structures and controlling their growth with the use of a variety of clamps, turnbuckles, and an assortment of other slightly rusty cast-iron mechanical devices. In two of his works, the trees were actually dead, seeming to have given up after a failed struggle against their respective machineries of coercion – suggesting an obvious question that pertains to the ethics of using living things to make more or less “permanent” works of art. Shaomin answers such a question by making a point of giving whoever owns a given work the right to keep the trees alive or let them die, transferring any ethical problem and/or responsibility onto would-be collectors. To assist the collector with such a dilemma, each of Shaomin’s Bonsai works comes with a beautifully produced bilingual instruction book outlining the proper care of the tree in question, each complete with detailed diagrams explaining things like plant nutrition and pest control. (Mark Van Proyen, Shen Shaomin: Experimental Studio).