Friday, 14 September 2007

3. Composition in Black and Red (‘Screaming Eagle’)

'Screaming Eagle' was nothing short of sensational when unleashed onto an unsuspecting public. It threw down the gauntlet to notions of the ‘neat’ so prevalent in contemporary football flags, called into doubt the sanity of the artist and questioned the very suitability of flags as a public and uncensored art form. Compared by many in it’s emotional intensity to Munch’s The Scream it is (as Fleydon points out) obviously twice as powerful because it features two heads, which is twice as many as Munch painted.

Fleydon visibly quails before this powerful work, his powerful frame sags and his perfect teeth seem to loose their lustre.

‘A bad, bad time for me. This is Art as Psychotherapy, a graphic representation of the power of the nightmare and the fear of sleep. I painted it freehand, from the sub-conscious in one sitting. I used an old IKEA Roman (eagle?) Blind, symbolic of the shutter against the night that no longer works. The beast is already here, within us, fighting to emerge from the primal id. Of course the drugs didn’t help. I was taking Calpol at the time for a persistent headache and I inadvertently mixed it with Bovril. Then all hell was set loose.’

Some critics picked up on the disturbing undercurrents, even as they stood in awe of the sheer power of the image

‘it looks as though its on caffeine and Benzedrine…’ was one of the more astute comments. Critics then argued about the underlining of the. What did it signify? The Sun ran a competition and came up with several startling suggestions. Fleydon himself remains silent on the matter. Whatever trauma unleashed the beast, it seems, for the present at least, to be safely contained.

(‘Screaming Eagle’ is part of the Tate Modern Collection)

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