Maze Figure
Bronze 1965

Michael Ayrton

Just why a youth is drawn to works of art in the first place is a curiosity. But that is the fact. I exchanged quid for quo--for works of art--since pre-puberty and continue to do so. But I do so only if the quo is of value to my soul, that inner place requiring a special kind of nourishment. The mystic Gurdjieff speaks of "cosmic food," consisting of three elements: ordinary nourishment, that is to eat and be eaten, the biosphere that surrounds us–breathing in and out, thereby both taking and leaving something behind, and finally the nourishment of our souls, our inner, specifically human, requirements for music, art, poetry and love. I strongly experience that tripartite knowledge of the cosmos.

It is true, that we forget and equally true that what we call memory is mostly made-up stuff, in spite of the clarity with which we see it. My positive reaction to Ayrton required a certain kind of nature, one of genetics and of genetics shaped by experience. I knew it was time to incorporate something mythical into myself when I was introduced to Ayrton by Stanley Johnson of the Johnson Gallery on Michigan avenue in Chicago. In1969, the magazine, Horizon, presented an essay about Ayrton, describing how he materialized elements of the Theseus myth, the famous story whose main elements include King Minos and his wife, a beautiful white bull, Poseidon, Theseus and his father, Daedalus, Ariadne, Demeter, Kore, the great Labyrinth in Crete and the Minotaur.

The Minotaur.  Ayrton imagined artistically what it might be like to be such a creature, part beast and part human, from its earliest awakening as a life form in the uterus of the Queen to its maturation as a beast with a palate tuned to savor the flesh of Greek youth.

Minotaur as Embryo
     Etching - 1971

Minotaur as Yearling
     Etching - 1971

Minotaur Full Grown
       Etching - 1971