September 18, 2023
Resisting the confines of porcelain vases, Dutch artist Patrick Bergsma’s vibrant bonsai sculptures illustrate the strength and resiliency of nature. Flowering branches, gnarled roots, and lush mosses rupture from shards of found pottery, capturing moments of transformation and growth.
Raised in a family of antique dealers, Bergsma was surrounded by art and historical objects, and as he developed his own practice, he was drawn to the collectibles that filled his parents’ shop and home. In his ongoing Expanding China Series,the artist references the rich, global history of porcelain.
“What we call typically Dutch, like Delft blue, was originally an attempt to imitate the very popular porcelain imported from China and Japan,” Bergsma says. “In this series, I often use these 17th-century ‘imitations’ combined with the natural elements like bonsai and ikebana.” The compositions also nod to the Japanese practice of kintsugi, replacing the metallic, mended pottery seams with dense mosses and clinging roots.
Bergsma initially used real bonsai trees that were either diseased or dead, incorporating them into broken vessels. Conscious of the possibility of reviving the diseased specimens, he began recreating lifelike versions using coconut fiber, polymers, kaolin, and quartz. A growing collection of bonsai trees in his studio garden provides a reference for choosing the right colors and materials for convincing replications.
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