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Text Box: Meet the Man, Meet the Mystery—3

his storytelling. 
     In William’s work, more than for most modern painters, themes of the heart rise iconic as an arrow that pierces the body. Most will recognise this emblem is related to the ‘spirit line’ made familiar by the First Nations ’ Woodlands’ style of painting in his homeland of Canada.
“Seeing comes before words. 
The child looks and recognises 
before it can speak.” 
(John Berger, 1972)
It was reported in his obituaries that William hoped to achieve the innocence of Picasso... yet, neither of these men is ‘unblemished’. In fact, Brian Purdy, a friend from those infamous ‘lost years’, asks, “did he make this statement?”  Brian echoes my own doubt. He insists that any 
Text Box: comments about William’s ’innocence’ are an “example of the plague of ‘fabrications’ which have sprung up about Wm. Brown since he died”. The William Brown that Brian and I both knew would never have characterized either Picasso or himself as chaste and unimpeachable. In fact, it seems unlikely to us that ‘innocence’ was ever William’s goal. 
     We have, therefore, grown concerned about the well-meaning generation of ‘false biographies’ since William’s passing. In discussing the suggestion of William’s goal, we have concluded it does not serve his memory well - nor does it preserve the true importance of his work - to let the term ‘innocence’ go unchallenged. 
     William should not be called an innocent in the sense of the well-ordered and unsophisticated worlds 
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