Welcome to my second newsletter in which I share the things I have recently been working on. Feedback is appreciated. Enjoy!
Roots and Branches
In the second week of September, I went on a well-needed holiday to Menorca, Spain. Justyna, Agnieszka and I walked the Camí de Cavalls - a hiking trail that follows the coastline of the island - swam in the sea, sat on a beach when it poured rain, and ate ensaimadas. We also played mini golf, visited picturesque Ciutadella, climbed the hills around Ferreries, and stumbled upon an abandoned and fenced-off military zone.
Among the many adventures I also took the time to make a few drawings; I always bring a pen and paper on vacation. During a lazy day next to the pool of Apartamentos Alta Galdana, I drew "Roots in Music", shown above. It was born from a spontaneous idea to draw a cello with roots.
The original of this drawing is 18.2 x 25.2 centimeters in size and is for sale for €25. If you are interested, please respond by e-mail or send me a message on social media. First come, first served.
Normally, I sell my originals for a lot more. The low price is inspired by the Weekly Drawings of my sister Philo Ouweleen, who is also an artist and a Japanologist. Every week, she makes a new artwork and sells it for the same price of €25. She uses the money to buy art of others, and by doing so supports the cultural sector. I plan to do the same: it is a great way for me to stay productive and regularly update my Instagram and Facebook accounts. And to slowly adorn my walls with art that I love. If you have any suggestions for subjects to draw, let me know!
"Roots", 2020. The original of this drawing is sold. Prints and postcards are for sale
"Roots in Music" was partially inspired by another drawing of mine, made in May 2020 and titled "Roots" (see above). The drawing depicts a detailed tree in winter, with bare branches, a black bird, and roots under ground that mirror the branches in their appearance.
It took me several days to finish, mostly because of the extreme detailing that I put into it. When I showed the finished piece to my friends, I got an amazing array of responses. One mentioned that it reminded him of the poem The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, and was intent on buying it. Another friend associated it with Norse mythology, in particular the tree of life Yggdrasil and the ravens Huginn and Muninn. On Instagram someone linked it to the book Krabat and the Sorcerer's Mill by Otfried Preußler, and on Facebook an acquaintance compared the style of the drawing to that of the film Le Planète Sauvage by Roland Topor and René Laloux. After my father saw the drawing, he sent me the poem Mitleid hin und her by Friedrich Nietzsche.
I took all these associations as great compliments. I think some less sophisticated influences might have made their way into the artwork as well, such as the three-eyed raven and the mystical tree from the television series Game of Thrones. What does it remind you of? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Below is a short video of me working on the details of "Roots"
Looking back at my art, the branches and roots of trees have inspired me in more of my work. In 2004 I made a series of drawings called "Metamorphosis", revolving around rabbit-like creatures that transform into trees (see below).
Why am I captivated by trees? Probably because roots and branches are perfect visual representations of organic growth. When you give a creature or an object branches, they get a natural sort of distortion that makes them look alive in an uncontrolled manner. A tree is something mysterious: it grows in a way that it simply does, guided by exterior factors like the direction of the sun, the minerals in the earth, temperature and wind. In combination with a lifeless object or a creature with a mind of its own, such uncontrolled tree-like qualities create an interesting juxtaposition.
Branches also symbolize multiplication and in a larger sense the notion of endless possibility. Their structures are ordered yet chaotic, and very difficult to draw realistically.
"Metamorphosis", 2014. The original of this drawing is sold. Prints are for sale
"Metamorphosis #2", 2014. The original of this drawing is for sale. Contact me if you are interested
September Issue of the European Go Journal
Since February 2021 I've been working together with Artem Kachanovskyi,
2-dan professional go player from Ukraine, to create the European Go Journal. A few months ago we were joined by two native speakers from the UK and the USA, Matt Partridge and Ian Polak-Kime, who help us with proofreading.
We recently sent out the September issue of the EGJ, already the 8th edition of the journal. This time with amazing cover art by Aleksandra Khokhlova from Omsk, Russia. The colors of the artwork are very fitting for the time of the year, when it slowly becomes clear that summer really has past and autumn has arrived.
In the September issue I especially enjoyed the interview with Ryan Li 3p from Canada, in which he talks about playing go against his father as a child, his choice to pursue a university degree in physics over a career as a professional go player (ending up with him becoming both a scientist and a pro go player), and some of his most memorable games of go, including an astounding win against world class player Chen Yaoye 9p from China.
I also particularly enjoyed the game commentary of the match-up between top Russian players Natalia Kovaleva 5d and Dina Burdakova 5d for the European Women's Go Championship. Congratulations to Dina for becoming European champion for the second time!
The journal holds so much more interesting go content, of which the regular chapter "Let's Study with AI" is one of my favorites. It analyzes changes in opening theory since the rise of superhuman go computer programs, and compares old joseki to new AI-innovations.
September was an important month for the journal. With the help of his brother Michael, Artem launched a website for the EGJ: all editions, including past ones, can now be purchased on www.eurogojournal.com. Slowly the EGJ will move away from Patreon and offer its content solely via the new site.
Although this happened back in July, it still blows my mind. I never thought that someday my art would be tattooed on someone's body. But it happened. Jamie Coulthard from the United Kingdom had one of my go-related artworks tattooed on his arm. It's a surreal and humbling feeling.
This go shape - the black stones - is called "kame no kou" in Japanese (亀の甲), translating to "the tortoise shell". Its Chinese and Korean names mean the same (龟甲 and 거북등, respectively). My artwork is a pun, showing "the tortoise shell" on the shell of a tortoise.
I made the original black and white drawing with pen on paper in 2014. It is owned by Dutch go-collector Theo van Ees. A few years later I created a color version of the drawing in Photoshop by incorporating two of my marbled papers.
This design is available in my Etsy shop as posters in size A4, A3 and A3+, and as postcards.
Meijin Screen-prints by Harald Germer
I knew of the existence of the Mejin screen-prints by Harald Germer from my employment in the European Go Center from 2017 to beginning of 2020, when the center unfortunately closed down. In the main playing room for go in the center, upstairs, these beautiful artworks decorated the walls and formed the backdrop for the Dutch Go Championships and the Amsterdam International Go Tournament.
Last year, just before the start of the covid-pandemic, I looked up the artist online and decided to contact him to ask if he still had any of these artworks left. To my joy, he did, and I managed to purchase the last remaining sets.
One of those sets is now decorating my living room, and the others I sell online in my Etsy shop. They are rare, as only 100 of them have been made: each print is hand-signed and numbered by the artist.
The set consists of six artworks modelled after photographs, depicting Yasuhisa Tamura (1874-1940), better known as Shusai, who was the last appointed Meijin, and his rivals. Meijin (名人) is a title in Japanese go. Its original meaning is "master" or "virtuoso" of any field.
Shusai was regarded as the strongest go player for decades. In the late 1920s his supremacy was in danger. The two young geniuses Go Seigen and Kitani Minoru rose to the top of the go world, and challenged him to official title matches. To everyone's astonishment, Shusai managed a win against Go Seigen. In 1937 Shusai, already ill and seemingly exhausted, accepted his last battle, against Kitani Minoru. The time of allotment of 40 hours a player showed what an extraordinary match this was. When the game ended on December 4th 1938, the "invincible master" had lost his last match.
Japanese Nobel laureate writer Yasunari Kawabata wrote a novel about Shusai’s final game with Kitani Minoru, titled "Meijin". Its English title is "The Master of Go".
If you want to see more photos of these artworks and/or would like to purchase a set, have a look in my Etsy shop, or contact me directly.
Logo Competition - Honorable Mention
In Murugandi Newsletter #1 I shared my entry for the logo competition of the Congreso Latinoamericano de Go Virtual 2021. The results were announced last month, and, unfortunately, I didn't win. The winning logo (above) was made by Julio César Camargo Ortega from Mexico.
A total of 19 people participated in the competition, and I probably finished second, because I received an honorable mention when the winner was announced. I am thankful, seeing that there were several cool designs that were sent in. I particularly enjoy the concept of the two jaguars by Víctor André Martins de Miranda from Brazil and the multi-colored go star by Diego Albuja Ortiz from Ecuador (see both below). All the logo designs can be viewed here.
5th Place at the Dutch Foosball Championship
Many of you know I love the game of go. Some of you know that I enjoy disc golf. Probably not that many of you know that I'm a fanatic foosball player. Yes, that game in which you simulate football / soccer on a table.
Last weekend my good friend Bart van Dam and I competed at the Dutch Foosball Championship 2021 in Elsloo, Limburg. We don't have a lot of experience with tournaments yet, but we regularly train and went into the tournament with high expectations. Our goal was to reach the top 10.
A total of 32 teams took part. We competed in both Classic Doubles and Open Doubles. In both disciplines, teams of two players battle against each other, but there are some minor differences in the rules for each event.
I'm proud to report that we made it to the Pro bracket in both disciplines. In Classic Doubles we lost in the Quarter Finals to Jeroen Kutaydin and Rick Hanssen, and finished on 5th place. In Open Doubles we got knocked out in the first elimination round by the finalists, Elroy Starren and Henk Habets, who are regular members of the Dutch national squad. This is our best result so far, and I am sure Bart and I will only get better. I hope we will compete more as a team in the near future!
If you've made it this far into the newsletter, you have read it all! And that means that you are amazing. Did you like the content? Spread the word! Did you notice something I could improve on? Let me know.