The Madness of Phaethon

The Madness of Phaethon
The Madness of Phaethon

I created this on May 22-23, 2015 using Rustoleum’s Oasis Blue (satin finish) for the background and yellow latex that I had mixed at a local paint store.  The canvas is 24″ x 36″.  After I had sprayed the background, I felt I wanted to use just one color for the splatter (action might be a better word).  I had used white already for A Winter’s Day and thought this tone of yellow would be a nice touch.  I wanted to produce a bright but simple work that would grab the attention from across a gallery filled with competitors’ works.  Part of my merchandising strategy is to produce works that are simple in concept and execution so that they stand out and are easily comprehensible from across a crowded gallery lined with other artists’ works of many colors, but which blend together in the eye from a distance, producing a muddled result.  This optical strategy I derived from the little reading I have done on Georges Seurat and pointillism.

I used a bit of a convoluted means to arrive at the name.  To me, the work looks like what one might see of the sun at the moment one were starting to spiral down to earth out of a clear, blue sky.  This reminded me of the Greek myth of Phaethon, Apollo’s son, who asked to drive his father’s chariot, but found he could not control it and consequently crashed into the sea.

After contemplating this story for a moment, I thought Phaethon had to be mad to think he could take his father’s reins and that somewhere underneath this story has to be a psychological, Oedipal, Freudian foundation concerning the use of power and ego and the misjudging of one’s own capabilities.  If there is a name for that, I don’t know it, so I will call it The Madness of Phaethon.

The depth of the symbolism behind the title surprised even me.

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