This affectionate account of an artist whose work is almost entirely figurative is a labour of love in every sense. Penelope Lee has been Paine’s partner in latter years and a party to both his private and working life. Although it is a retrospective, we should be clear that the subject is still with us and that the text therefore reflects, and occasionally quotes, his own point of view. A catalogue raisonnée is it not.
We should also say that this is a private publication and that what it lacks is an editor: some of the writing could be tidied up and some of the detail is perhaps more than we need. However, the selection and quality of the illustrations is second to none, and that’s what matters. If you want to skip a bit of the text, no-one’s going to complain. If the pictures are too small, unsharp or too few, there’s nothing you can do. An editor may also have taken some of the personality out of the book and the intimacy it contains may be what is, for you, its chief feature.
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