Icarus – 2005-09
Oil on canvas – 75 x 100cm
This contemporary capitalist Icarus neglected his father Daedelus’ warning against hubris and complacency and ascended the morally slippery but lofty heights of greed and avarice. Instead of wings held together with wax this P-plate exemplar of [our] capitalist society indulges himself in his hobby and takes his exercise in his golf buggy. He proudly wears fashionable trappings, his wristwatch and (reversed) baseball cap and displays his ardent Nationalism in the Australian flag-bedecked neck cushion. His under-powered vehicle, a symbol of his sexual impotency perhaps, is immobile and held by chocks, but still proudly flies the national colours. Is he deluding himself? The Noddy-like car is itself supported on a book plinth. Zola wrote of the evils of greed in his book L’Argent (Money) – and even the bookmark used in this book on money is a banknote.
The white tag at the bottom of the spine of the book indicates it may have come from a library collection, that now outdated symbol of socialist universal access to knowledge. It is an interesting philosophical notion, even an indictment perhaps of a book on money being borrowed then stolen! The real power keeping this image afloat is the giant sized wind-up key inserted below, itself tagged by a distinct lack of information. What bigger mechanisms are at play here?
At the time this painting merely reflected my revulsion at the unchecked greed in our society and it was not unpredictable to anticipate the consequences of flying too high in the stock market crash of 2008.