Jardins zen by Bernard JEANNEL – Château de Bénouville

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Jardins zen by Bernard JEANNEL – Château de Bénouville

Zen gardens

Zen gardens, the aesthetics and the philosophy of which now charm and intrigue across the globe, were born in Japan from the poetic and learned dialogue between man and nature and through a religion tinged with a hint of esotericism. Zen gardens present the subtlest of sophistications of the art of landscape, exposing themselves to the boldest of abstraction, through which a breath of modernity remains perceptible. These works of art, born from the dreams of the greatest of artists, the most learned of monks and men of letters, are often evocative of various interpretations of heaven, as seen in sacred Buddhist texts, with echoes of Chinese Taoism. Whilst avoiding paradoxical or overtly subjective interpretations, these gardens must be presented and deciphered from a new angle. The most famous gardens, along with lesser-known sites in Japan’s most remote confines, are worthy of infinitely more meaningful explanation.  The permanence and the pertinence of the themes evoked over a few centuries of original creation reveal the universal dimension of an educational art whose creators and commissioners wished to hand down to posterity.

Bernard Jeannel

Bernard Jeannel is currently preparing a book on the Jardins zen du Japon (The Zen gardens of Japan) after Jardins japonais en France (Japanese gardens in France), published by Nathan in 1995, Le Nôtre published by Hazan in 1985, Le Ginkgo by Actes Sud in 1999 and a guide to Japan, published in 1994 (all out of print). A qualified architect and anthropologist, author and landscaper by passion, he has studied the art of gardens equally out in the field as at the University of Kyoto where he was resident for 6 years. He has also studied in China and Korea, has restored traditional houses in Japan and created a few gardens of Japanese inspiration in France. With support from a number of French and Japanese institutions and foundations, he confirmed the inspiration of the ‘Japanese landscape’ at the Parc Oriental de Maulévrier (Maine-et-Loire), magnificently restored 25 years ago in collaboration with Japanese landscapes who worked on site. Bernard Jeannel, a former lecturer-researcher, also accompanies amateurs on garden visits to Japan.