Voyage of the Ayeguy
'Ascension', painted 1980 for the Voyage of the Ayeguy portfolio set.
Voyage of the Ayeguy is a series of paintings of deep personal significance to Kirby, widely regarded as his tour de force. The paintings chart the epic voyage of ambassadors from the Ayeguy civilisation commanded to: 'Go, civilise the savage planets!' in their spaceship, the Ark. The biblical parallels are overt: the central traveller is Kirby’s idealistic ‘Christ’ figure, Jay Zuzz.
Initially separate paintings, by the third a thread emerged. An American commission to publish six works as a portfolio (1980) accelerated the project and Kirby wrote an accompanying text. He added new paintings right up to the time of his death.
Each scene presents challenge, confrontation and emotion as the spaceman protagonist pursues his mission across a strange planet. They are masterpieces of baroque composition, complex allegories orchestrated in rich colour and detail, combining the influences of Hieronymous Bosch, Pieter Breugel, Rubens and the muralist Frank Brangwyn.
With grand ambition, Kirby desired:
“to tackle the great spiritual themes artists have always tackled down the ages using the imagery of their patrons, the Church.”