Root Wood Table

Artistic Collaboration

  Root Wood Gongshi Table; Hebei Province, China; 20 W x 18.5 D x 31 H inches; PRIMITIVE I.D. #F1305-061

Already heralded as the most famous artist of her day, she studied a piece of wood on her studio floor. It begged to have her hands caress the wood, which swirled and contorted in extraordinary shapes. “Not so fast,” she told herself. The piece was asking to be reborn, but as what? If she listened hard enough perhaps she could hear what it wanted to be. Other mediums spoke to her in the same way. A blank canvas always told her what image to render before she ever picked up a brush. She looked again. Seeing the wood was one thing, touching it another. As her hands glided over the surface she read it like Braille, feeling each groove and whorl. Gradually, encoded instructions were revealed. The most important was to be patient. It might take years to finish this work. It did; and upon completion she cryptically signed her name. It simply said, Nature; and at last, she gave birth to this week’s New Arrival.

Detail of Root Wood Gongshi Table; see related blog to learn more

This week’s New Arrival features a Chinese root wood table. In China, natural art has been treasured for centuries. As talented as humankind may be, it is difficult to render more engaging images and forms than provided by nature herself; although occasionally, nature’s handiwork can use a little assist. The artisan who transformed this root into a table was especially sensitive to nature’s well-established modus operandi. They did not view the wood as raw material alone nor did they put their own perspective or personality ahead of the shape, grain, quality, appearance, or overall feeling of the wood. Instead, like nature, they let the piece dictate how it wanted to look. Finally, its natural form preserved, a functional work of art emerged. It takes skill, willingness, and humility for artists to collaborate. Examine this table. There are no signatures; just the telltale signs of appreciation and respect.