OSL contemporary has the pleasure of presenting Scottish painter Callum Innes’ first solo exhibition in Scandinavia. Innes’ oeuvre can be seen as a systematic exploration of the fundamental aspects of oil painting: figure against surface, formal composition and the materiality of colour. The body of works form a practice which is strongly programmatic, yet which opens up for atmospheric abstraction of seemingly endless visual variation.
Innes has developed concurrently several series of works where each painting represents a subtle but constant progression from previous works. The current exhibition includes, in addition to a series of watercolours, five paintings from the series Exposed Painting, a project Innes has investigated since the early 1990s. The paintings vary in format, whilst motif and method follow a nearly identical approach. Colours are applied in layers in a geometric composition of quadratic and rectangular colour blocks within a set pattern, until the layers add up to an impenetrable, almost black surface. Innes then begins his process, where turpentine and precise brushstrokes are used to remove the pigment from the layers of colour. As the process comes to its conclusion, it reveals vibrating fields of colour where the whole nuanced spectrum of the pigments is laid bare. The pigments used can be found in the works’ titles, such as Exposed Painting Blue Violet or Exposed Painting Greyish Blue Orange.
The method could be compared to photographic development, where the underlying potential of the monochrome surface is brought out in continually new shades and strata. By removing as much as he adds, Innes creates not only a visually striking effect, but also reveals a timeline mapping the phases of the process. A record of juxtapositions and transformations is created, showing traces of time, movement and loss. The paintings can be said to describe an interstice between presence and absence, between what is and what is disappearing. Innes’ methodical approach lays bare the process of creation and, as such, represents an archaeology within the abstract painting; an exploration of colour, surface, spatiality and time which is unveiled when the acts of creation and destruction take place on the same canvas.
Callum Innes (b. 1962) lives and works in Edinburgh. In the last decades he has emerged as one of the foremost abstract painters in the UK. Amongst his solo exhibitions in recent years are Neues Museum, Nuremberg, Sean Kelly, New York and Frith Street Gallery, London. In 2014 his presentation Seminal was given a central role in the exhibition Generation: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland. He studied at Grays School of Art and Edinburgh College of Art. In 2002 he received the Jerwood Prize for Painting and in 2008 the NatWest Prize. He has been nominated for the Turner Prize, and his paintings are represented in the collections of, amongst others, The Guggenheim Museum in New York, Le Centre Pompidou in Paris and Tate Gallery in London.