The Dutch Go Association (NGoB) asked me to make a series of black and white portraits for a beginners-book they are publishing this year. The portraits will be accompanied by short stories about the individuals. Some of them are fictional characters and some are real people. The pictures and stories take you through the ages of go players:
- 5th century BC: Li is described as a Chinese student aspiring to become a high functionary. To become one, he must master the four arts - calligraphy, painting, guqin and weiqi.
- 8th century AD: Zhou is a soldier who travels along the coasts of Japan and Korea on a Chinese trade ship. During his travels he plays go on deck with the other soldiers and the high priest.
- 13th century AD: Takashi is a Japanese samurai who learned to play go during his training to become a warrior. He is the strongest go player of the empire and is looking forward to the upcoming castle tournament.
- End of the 19th century: Oskar is a German engineer who learns to play go from a Japanese professional player during his work time overseas. After returning to his homeland, he aims to spread go in Germany and writes the first Western book on the topic.
- Halfway through the 20th century: Kees is a student from Amsterdam who studies Japanese. During his time in Japan he learns the game from a Japanese student. Back home he starts a go club and aims to establish a national go association.
- 2015: Demis is the director of DeepMind and is the driving power behind the making of a computer program that should challenge the best go players on the planet. AlphaGo will eventually do exactly that and defeat the strongest human go player alive.
Congratulations to Maja Brouwer for winning my first ever art raffle and taking home the original of "Sniffing the Third Line". And congratulations to Dan Iugulescu for winning 14 different go postcards with my designs!
Today at 19:00 o'clock I randomly picked two winners live on social media amongst the people that followed my page and commented under the drawing I posted on Instagram and Facebook.
Want to support the artist? All my originals are for sale and I also offer postcards and posters of all my art. Stay tuned for my new art and art lotteries in the near future.
To celebrate having almost 800 likes on my Facebook page and because I want to do something to lighten the mood during the Covid-19 crisis, I decided to start a new project on the 1st of May. I will be making new drawings regularly (the aim is new art every few days) and I am giving away the originals amongst my followers.
This is the second drawing I will be giving away in the lottery.
Giveaway drawing #2 "Sniffing the Third Line"
20,4 x 20,9 cm
Watercolour and ink on paper
I have been thinking about drawing a cat playing go for a while, inspired by several photos of cats playing around with go stones and in particular by two Japanese artworks made circa 1850. A few years ago Dutch go collector Theo van Ees showed me two woodblock prints by Kunisada Utagawa I (1786-1864) from his collection, in which a cat or a cat-like animal is positioned next to a go board with stones on it. These artworks were printed in a small picture book sized 17.5 x 11.5 centimeters, called ehon in Japanese, one of them on the cover and the other on the inside.
The print from the inside of the booklet is black and white and seems to depict a mythological go match taking place in a forest. Perhaps the two players are situated on a mountain, because clouds are visible under and above the branches of the trees. Next to the two fierce individuals, who are clearly immersed in their game of go, sits an animal. It probably is not a cat, but instead a wild animal of sorts, since it has claws and finds itself in a mountain forest. A bear, maybe?
According to the seller that Theo bought the book from, the print shows "a demon playing the game of go". That is all I know about this print and I would love to know more about its story.
Edit on 19th of May:
My sister Philo Ouweleen, who is a Japanologist, has delved more deeply into the matter.
Because of the added value of the written text in this type of booklet and its date, it is more accurately described as kusazoshi (草双紙) rather than ehon. More specifically, this is a gokan (合巻), a type of picture book that was popular in the late Edo period. Quality scans of all gokan can be viewed on this page and over here.
The volume that depicts these two go scenes is written by Mantei Oga (万亭応賀, 1818~1890). The title on the cover reads 倭文庫十七編, which roughly translates to "Japanese writings collection, 17th volume". Its full title is written on the inside of the book and reads 釈迦八相倭文庫, meaning "The Eightfold Path of the Buddha, collection of Japanese books". This volume is number 17 in a series of 58 books that tell an adapted, easily readable version of the story of Gautama Buddha and his path to enlightenment. The woodblock print artwork in the series appears to be a collaboration between Utagawa Kunisada I (歌川 国貞, 1786-1864), Utagawa Kunisada II (歌川 国貞, 1823-1880) and Kawanabe Kyosai (河鍋 暁斎, 1831-1889). Utagawa Toyokuni (歌川豊国, 1769- 1825) is also mentioned. The series was published between 1845 and 1871. The publication of volume 17 can indeed be pinpointed to circa 1850.
All pages of the 17th volume can be viewed in its entirety here. Number 27 and 30 show the artworks that I refer to and in addition number 36 also shows a go scene.
And what about the black and white print and the mysterious bear? Actually, the bear is a cat afterall! A bakeneko to be precise, a supernatural creature (yokai) from Japanese mythology and folklore. According to the legends, a bakeneko - a "ghost cat" or "monster cat" - begins life as an ordinary house cat which is fed too much and becomes unusually large. Once reaching an immense size (I kid you not), the animal begins to display magical abilities or supernatural powers such as therianthropy, making it a shapeshifter. Pretty epic for a fat cat!
This blog post is the second edition of Looking Back, in which I look back on artwork I have made in the past.
Soon the 2018-2019 edition of the Dutch Go Association Yearbook will be published. Each year the Nederlandse Go Bond (NGoB) publishes such a booklet in which the most important seasonal go happenings of the Netherlands are recorded, along some major international go news.
As is becoming tradition, my go art is on the cover! This time it is my raccoon dog who drums his belly, a pun on the Japanese name of a famous tesuji combination of two stones played on the first line, capturing the opponent's group of stones in a spectacular way. The green marbling pattern was created by hand in 2019, then scanned and cleaned up digitally.
The raccoon dog on the cover of the 2018-2019 Dutch Go Yearbook is the fourth in a series of covers I have made for the Nederlandse Go Bond that feature animals, go positions and paper marbling. Here are the previous three:
And a picture of what the three booklets look like next to each other:
The cover of the 2017-2018 NGoB Yearbook features my go butterfly, which originally was a logo that I created for the European Youth Go Championships (EYGC) of 2015 that took place in Zandvoort.
The patterns on the wings of the butterfly show several tesuji shapes, such as the crane's nest and a snapback.
The 2016-2017 edition, probably my personal favourite so far, incorporates my drawing The Tortoise Shell, a pun on the Japanese name for one of the strongest shapes in go called 亀の甲 (the tortoise shell): a tortoise rocking the tortoise shell on his tortoise shell.
For the 2015-2016 yearbook I chose a design featuring Lee Sedol's famous move 78 that made AlphaGo go on tilt in game four of their best of five match in 2016. Lee Sedol lost the overall match to the computer program by 4 to 1 games, making AlphaGo the first computer to defeat a top level professional in the history of go. This wedging move by Sedol resulted in the only victory in the matchup for the Korean and became a symbolic victory of human capability.
If you look closely, you might notice a difference in the look of the elephant cover with the following editions: the elephant is black and white, since most of my artwork was still black and white in those days, but also unlike the subsequent covers the marbled background is one shade of colour and blends together with the go board. The original was blue and white, but an editorial decision was made to change it to brown. The future editions were not altered, showing a small difference in style.
Technically the NGoB Yearbook series with my artwork on the cover started with the 2014-2015 edition, for which my drawing called Fighting Spirit was used. I don't really consider this volume as part of the series, however, because it stands out from the rest. It is completely black and white and as I had not yet discovered paper marbling, there is no exciting background. On top of that, the actual go drawing ended on the back side of the booklet instead of the front. See pictures below. I also include some examples of what each yearbook I illustrated looks like on the inside.
My go art has also been published on two magazines of the German Go Association, called the Deutsche Go-Zeitung. The Raccoon Dog Drums His Belly and Fighting Spirit make their first appearances on the first DGoZ volume of 2015 and the second DGoZ volume of 2019.
Do you run or write a go editorial, magazine, bulletin, leaflet, website, book, you name it? And would you like to include my art? Please leave a comment!
I recently finished this new go design that incorporates a fascinating 9x9 endgame problem.
This swordfish is the 13th drawing in my series of go artwork that features animals, paper marbling and of course the game of go itself. I sell these works as postcards and posters in various sizes.
I came across this endgame problem on the Facebook page of BIBA - Blackie's International Baduk Academy - a go school (go is called baduk in Korea) in Seoul. BIBA is specifically aimed at Westerners who want to study the game. The head masters of the school, Diana Koszegi and Seungjun Kim, kindly gave me permission to use their go problem in my art.
The endgame problem is interesting for two reasons. At first glance, the position seems to be taken from a real match that was played on a 9x9 board, but on closer inspection it turns out that there are 21 stones for black and 23 for white. It is black to play and no stones have been captured. In these circumstances, in a real match both black and white would have the same amount of stones on the board. So we can conclude that this is a constructed problem. The second reason is the solution. Tip: think outside the box.
Do you want to know the solution? Have a try in the game editor below. I have included several diagrams so it is not apparent on first glance which of these is the solution. Enjoy.
If you do not have Flash player, you can download the solution as an .sgf-file.
Today I want to introduce a new part of my blog called Looking Back, which I will use every now and then to share artwork that I have created in the past. As the first post of Looking Back, I would like to share a series of 12 go artworks that I have made so far.
This ongoing series features animals, paper marbling (known as suminagashi in Japan and ebru in Turkey) and the game of go (known as igo in Japan, baduk in Korea and weiqi in China). Several of these designs refer to the names of patterns and shapes in the game of go that often are derived from nature. For other artworks I took inspiration from famous go matches or gave my own twist to commissioned work.
I sell these designs as postcards and posters in various sizes. This project started little over a year ago, when I realised I want to offer my art in an affordable format. I did however want to be able to guarantee the best quality possible and that is why I decided to make the products myself at home. After taking a chance and purchasing a professional printer in December 2018 I soon found out that it is not easy to find the right paper. Not too thin and shiny for the postcards, not too thick and plain for the posters. After several frustrating weeks of failed tries I finally found the right materials and started offering my work online. Since then I have worked together with many go organisations as well as individual buyers.
For those of you who are new to the game of go: go is a strategic board game in which black and white take turns, placing stones on a board, specifically on the intersections of the indicated lines. The goal of the game is to surround territory with your stones and whoever has surrounded most territory at the end of the match wins. The rules of go are simple, but the game never gets boring as there is an almost infinite amount of possibilities that makes every match you play a new challenge.
I have been hooked on go ever since I started playing in September 2004. The game, mind sport, art of go or whatever you want to call it has had a significant influence on my life. It gave me an outlet for my competitiveness, made me part of a community, influenced my drawings and even got me several jobs promoting the sport. You can read more about my go background in the GAME OF GO tab.
Welcome to my website! My name is Kim Ouweleen, my artist pseudonym is Murugandi.