- Just In
- Fine Art
The Art of Suiseki
- October, 2010
The literal translation of the Japanese word Suiseki (sue-ee-sek-ee) simply means water stone. However, in the language of the heart the meaning is far more complex. For the past 2,000 years artists, scholars and poets alike have devoted their entire beings attempting to capture the meaning and mystique of these extraordinary natural creations.
What is this strange power they possess that lures and seduces even the most skeptical? What lies behind the dreams and memories they evoke? And why does the encounter with this fascinating, all natural art form instantly remind us of our kinship with nature?
Japan’s foremost Bonsai and Suiseki artist the late Yuji Yoshimura may have said it best, “The contemplation of a stone as a symbol of nature relaxes his sense of values. The importance of life in its simplest form is reflected his sense of values. The importance of life in its simplest form is reflected through the beauty, strength and character of the stone.”
Unlike Chinese Scholar Rocks, where stones are extensively altered by man, the fundamental premise of Suiseki requires that a stone must be kept in “as found” condition. The only acceptable modification is a leveling cut made at the bottom of a stone for ease of mounting. The majority of these stones are exactly as I discovered them. The bases (daiza) for each stone in the display have been painstakingly hand-carved by the finest daiza carver in the United States, Mr. Richard Conrad of York, Pennsylvania. As you will notice, the most important characteristic of the daiza is the fact that it does not call attention to itself, it is simply the frame for the Suiseki.
In Japan, stones of this quality sell for many thousands of dollars. Obviously, the significant increase in worldwide popularity of the art form, the scarcity of collecting sites and the immense physical effort involved in collecting these stones have all contributed to this phenomenon.
In the past I have been invited to exhibit my collection at many prestigious events; The Philadelphia Flower Show, Longwood Gardens, The United States National Arboretum, and Philadelphia International Airport just to name a few. Initially, what I’ve seen from most viewers is a distinct look of skepticism. However, as with my first encounter, the skepticism quickly turns to awe, wonder, and profound new awareness. Hopefully, you too will have that same experience.