This World: the Art of Josh Kirby
15th June - 30th September 2007
The Walker invites you on an epic journey across fantastic landscapes,
magical kingdoms and even galaxies far, far away.
Out of This World: the Art of Josh Kirby is the first career retrospective
of the late Liverpool-born artist, who made a name for himself with his
famous cover illustrations for Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels.
Also included in his impressive back-catalogue are poster designs for
such classic films as Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Monty Python’s
Life of Brian.
All of these celebrated works are on display alongside less familiar
pieces, such as his sharp sketches for Corgi in the 1950s and 60s.
The Discworld illustrations are as striking as ever, rich in colour and
ribald humour. Unlike most fantasy artwork, Kirby resisted using airbrushing
and dexterously hand-painted each one using oils or gouaches. The same
technique was applied to many of his other, more personal works, including
portraits of Alfred Hitchcock and Edgar Allan Poe with their faces comprised
of skulls, snakes and ghouls upon closer inspection.
Seeing Kirby’s skilful and inventive paintings un-cropped, in their
original format, is a unique experience. It is plain to see there is much
more to Kirby than cartoon elves and wizards. Along with the hundreds
of book covers he produced, Kirby also created many deeply personal paintings.
The influence of artists Bosch, Bruegel and Brangwyn is evident, but in
time Kirby developed his own unique vision.
As further interest and research round Kirby’s work continues,
we can only hope a comprehensive compilation of his paintings will be
published in the future.