Discover the art and sculpture behind bonsai trees at Elvis Presley’s former home in LA
The art of bonsai – literally, ‘tray planting’ – goes back thousands of years. Originating in China, becoming tradition in Japan, it only achieved worldwide recognition in the last few decades. The dwarfed, meticulously cared-for trees must be trimmed, styled, and repotted, though custom calls for masking the artist’s hand. It’s a process that, as the name suggests, depends heavily on the vessel.
As its newest tenant, Casa Perfect, the home-as-showroom LA offshoot of the Future Perfect, invited ceramicist Jonathan Cross and Bonsai Mirai’s Ryan Neil to unveil a collaboration of ceramic and living sculpture. Casa’s latest location, a former home of Elvis Presley with panoramic views, combines the residential and the worldly, offering an ideal environment for the paradoxes of bonsai itself.
The one-of-a-kind pieces pieces meld contemporary stoneware with bonsai that have been years-in-the-making, combining materials like stone and steel with juniper, aloe, and cypress. Cross’ work, collected at the National Bonsai Museum in Washington D.C., makes use of the ancient wood-firing process, giving his vessels the look of relics. Neil’s Portland-based Bonsai Mirai departs from Japanese tradition, taking cues from Western art history such as contrapposto figures and Italian Renaissance paintings. The results are elongated, exaggerated forms that can appear to be falling, writhing, or stretching upwards.
Desert Study Sandstone by Jonathan Cross and Ryan Neil
‘Bonsai has always been interesting to me, the meditative quality to the craft and staggering sense of artistry,’ David Alhadeff, founder of The Future Perfect, said of the collaboration. ‘There is a really exciting energy between the two artists and it led to something that’s a wonderful reflection of the kind of experimentation that Casa Perfect was developed for.’
The pieces appear both within in the house and in the ample backyard space– eliding the indoor and outdoor of the single-floor, Hollywood Regency-style home. The pieces from the show will be exclusively available through The Future Perfect.
‘It’s all about expanding and challenging traditional ways of thinking about design,’ said Alhadeff, adding the works ‘take both artists into new territory’– a fitting new project for the still-roving space. §