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Handing in today

And more importantly, for my sanity, I am going to see the Ayrton show at the Fry.

With all the crapola about school continuing closures and the assault of Chris Whitty in the News it feels a bit of a poisonous day. And as for the incessant sports coverage on the BBC at the moment I am reminded of a phrase my father frequently trotted ot: 'Lowest Common Denominator.' And I live in a supposedly civilised Western democracy. I once told a class I was an ararcho-syndicalist in the Bakunin style. I was only partly joking, but it stuck in the minds of some. I have a tendency to do that with the flippant commentary, and then they chirp, 'Sir, do you remember when you said...' And I do not.

This is one of those adolescent experiments that I could so easily have pursued and endlessly repeated and expanded, changing scale and colour as I went. But that kind of facile adoption of a popular way of painting makes me cringe. Often in commercial galleries you see successful formats endlessly reproduced. Some artists' work is diminished by being displayed in bulk. The great ones are always enhanced by quantity. I can think of revelatory shows I have been too where the unexpected early or late work, the 'private' pictures painted with no commercial purpose at all, can be utterly fascinating.

Keith Vaughan tends to suffer from multiple canvas exposure, but Eric Ravillious grows. Sometimes narrow band collection can reduce the power of a certain type of image. Even Matisse thick-line drawings of women pall a little, and Picasso's meditations on Las Meninas are truly dreadful, but then they were painted for his own exploration, not the public's understanding.

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