The Good Father


A work painted between 1994 and 2005.


This work takes a different slant on the myth of Daedalus and Icarus, concentrating on the dynamic between father and son. Here Icarus is shown as the reluctant recipient of his father’s new invention – a pair of wings – about to be shoved off a precipice on his first test flight to oblivion. Daedalus will explain away any guilt in the death of his son by saying he flew too close to the sun. The fable is traditionally interpreted as a warning against hubris but I prefer to look at the psychology…

I have often sought the reason behind the gulf that exists sometimes, between a mature son and his father. However close the childhood bond, that emotional fluency so often becomes mute as the years pass. I think the story in this picture represents an important mechanism in that alienation.

The power balance between the Father’s ‘godhead’ and the son’s putative self-determinism results in endless scope for conflict and loggerheads. The son, ever more aware of self-impulse and the potentials therein, creatively seeks to navigate the father’s labyrinth of control mechanisms. Exasperation results on both sides.

In the end, the father must relinquish his controlling and the way might be clear for reconciliation provided the damage has not been too severe.

The Daedalus of myth was a figure of seemingly unlimited genius and invention, but like the flawed father here, he had feet of clay; when Perdix beat him to the invention of the saw, Daedalus threw his rival from a precipice. The gods transformed Perdix into a pigeon to save him. The saw and pigeon are both depicted here.

Height: 48"
Width: 38"
Medium: Oil On Canvas
Year: 1994
SKU: JB-FATHER Category: