in art is that the opportunities before a young artist are not too few but too many. The whole of art, past and present, lies open to him; anything is allowed and most things are encouraged. The painter’s difficulty lies, therefore, in judging just where his particular gift will find fulfilment.” Russell answers his own implicit question here by suggesting that it is not by the “assuming [of] an acceptable personality” and perhaps taking the public in, but rather by the artist going for the long haul, of long hours and no short cuts. It is certainly an approach to art that Vaux’s subsequent career has borne out, as the steady beat of his progressive thinking about abstraction and ideas about light and colour, the strict and the free, in this 40 year retrospective (1977-2017) makes plain. They were there too from the start as he absorbed the exhilarating lessons of American Abstract Expressionism but, crucially he was not swept away by them either, giving himself time to find his own language, that particular ‘voice’ which still makes his work feel fresh and thoughtful today. Now, as then, with young artists trying to find their feet as the tide of globalised, world art and stylistic free for all rolls in, his work provides a useful model of the virtues of time, and tenacity, in the making of good art. Nicholas Usherwood Way back when, London’s commercial galleries used to do a variety of regular mixed contemporary shows – Leicester Galleries’ ‘Artists of Fame and Promise’ and Tooth’s ‘Critic’s Choice’ are just two that spring to mind – and Flowers Cork Street’s ‘Small is Beautiful’, now remarkably enough in its 35th incarnation, is a very welcome survivor of a largely lost tradition. Founded in 1974, it is also a nice reminder of where it all began, one of my favourite galleries from that time, Angela Flowers, in its rackety Soho space in a small courtyard and up some stairs just off D’Arblay Street. The parties were legendary and the art more adventurous than most and it is good to see that many of the artists from that time are still showing in ‘Small is Beautiful’ today – Ian Tyson, Patrick Hughes, Derek Boshier, David Hepher, John Loker and Glenys Barton among them. It is a big show with a simple premise – over 100 artists working in any media on a scale no greater than 7 by 9 inches – and it now has a significant international dimension also with artists from some 12 countries. It has retained its nicely democratic character too with with a good mix of younger artists represented alongside the bigger names – such as Gavin Turk, Maggi Hambling, John McLean, Bill Pye and Norman Ackroyd. Meanwhile another small work show – the Small Paintings Group’s annual Christmas show at Piers Feetham Gallery . Founded in 1989 by Peter Peterson RBA, it is a small society – 35 members – and dedicated solely to showing small paintings (ie no other media). Over the years the group has mounted some 30 exhibitions or more. They have a slightly more generous size limit than the Flowers’ show – a whopping 12 inches square! – and a very distinguished membership with Ken Howard, Linda Sutton, Francis Bowyer, William Packer, Richard Sorrell and Richard Pikesley among them. Finally more on the small scale theme is to be found in Bohun Gallery’s seasonal show entitled ‘Round the World’ with work by artists including Mary Fedden, Julian Trevelyan and Wilhelmina Barns Graham, not only compact in size but also inspired by travels abroad. All together a delightful way of solving the Christmas present problem. Painter Marc Vaux’s latest show at Bernard Jacobson Gallery illustrates just how fresh and personal the work of this 85 year old survivor of the glitzy 1960s scene still seems. And that, in turn, made me go back to that still remarkably prescient compendium of the time, ‘Private View’ (1965), and the words that still hugely underrated critic John Russell wrote on him there. I quote “One characteristic of the new situation CODA from left M ary Fedden ‘The Black Jug’ Bohun Gallery Marc Vaux ‘NE1/5/04’ Bernard Jacobson Gallery Geraldine Swayne ‘Pinstripe’ Flowers R ole model Simply small DECEMBER 2017 GALLERIES 43