Ocula MagazineContentsView All
Featured ContentView All
Cinga Samson: ‘a different conversation on representation’ Ocula Conversation Cinga Samson: ‘a different conversation on representation’ Jareh Das

Cinga Samson 's paintings lay bare the complex relationship between contemporary life, African traditions, globalisation, and representation. His strikingly sombre portraits contain similarities to those of contemporary painters such as Toyin Ojih Odutola, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye , Kehinde Wiley , Florine Démosthène, and Tunji...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Dhaka Art Summit 2020: Seismic Movements Ocula Report Dhaka Art Summit 2020: Seismic Movements Radha Mahendru, Dhaka

Seismic Movements , the fifth Dhaka Art Summit, plotted movements, solidarities, and exchanges across the Global South with over 500 artists, scholars, curators, and thinkers.

Fade out copy.
Read More
Guo Hongwei on Seeing Patterns That Don’t Exist Ocula Insight Guo Hongwei on Seeing Patterns That Don’t Exist Sherry Paik, New York

Guo Hongwei's recent watercolour paintings, showing at Chambers Fine Art in New York from 3 March, trigger pareidolia—the phenomenon of seeing random objects or patterns where they do not exist.

Fade out copy.
Read More
HomePage Artists

b. 1962, United Kingdom

Callum Innes Biography

Scottish artist Callum Innes has forged a worldwide reputation as one of the most significant abstract painters of his generation. Single-mindedly following his own path, since the early 1990s he has explored monochrome painting in highly innovative ways, creating minimalist geometric abstract works that have captured the attention of the international art world.

Read More

Innes’ distinctive works are characterized by monochromatic colour zones within precise geometric compositions, yet their apparent simplicity belies their complexity of construction and depth of expression. His paintings have a powerful, almost physical impact on the senses and emotions. Their effect is magical, entrancing and mesmerizing the viewer.

Callum Innes was born in Edinburgh in 1962. He studied drawing and painting at Grays School of Art, Aberdeen, from 1980 to 1984 and completed a post-graduate degree at Edinburgh College of Art in 1985. He was short-listed for the Turner Prize in 1995, won the prestigious NatWest Prize for Painting in 1998, and in 2002 was awarded the Jerwood Prize for Painting.

At art school, Innes focused on figurative works but decided to move towards abstraction after a career-changing residency in Amsterdam in 1987, when he had the chance to see the work of more international artists. However, he still wished to retain a figurative element, a human presence in his work. This was translated in his approach to making the painting and its physical nature. His paintings are created through a complex process of application and removal of paint. Instead of building up a painting through an accumulation of brush strokes which eventually fill the canvas, he often paints a canvas in one colour before using turpentine to wipe away paint from one section of the surface, sometimes revealing the gesso-primed canvas itself. He may repeat this process several times. This systematic layering and dissolving, which takes place over several days, weeks or months, gives his work a complex rhythm and beauty.

Often a thin, vertical line where the cleansed and painted sections of the composition meet, separates the two halves of the canvas. It is not created as an afterthought but is an integral part of the creation of the painting. This line, and the edges of the colour zones, which appear at first glance monochromatic, retain the various faintly coloured residues of the paint which has been removed - traces of the process and controlled chaos of their production. Paradoxically, while the act of creation can be uncertain and tense, the end results are calm and meditative.

Callum Innes makes works in a number of different ways which are continually evolving. He has produced paintings, sculptures and paper works. His series of paintings including Exposed Paintings, Agitated Verticals, Resonance, Isolated Forms and Monologue works are all made by this process of ‘un-painting’ as well as painting. While his forms are sharp and precise, the proportions of his compositions meticulously calculated and perfect, the paintings possess a sense of mystery and emotion which perhaps stem from their often figurative inspiration. Although they are abstract, Innes says they all started originally from figures, plant forms, architectural features or natural occurrences. It is not hard to imagine that the luminous quality of his paintings derives from the vastness and brilliant light witnessed by the artist on his walks on the east coast of his native Scotland.

Innes’ abstract compositions have a feeling of balance and purity, as well as a sense of both space and time. His process of creation leaves behind a memory of what was there before, as the paintings carry within them the evidence that something has disappeared. In this way, the materials he uses are not only the tools of his art but also its subject. The time that has passed, the process of painting, is a vital part of the end result. His paintings elicit a response on many levels—emotional, physical and even spiritual—but the artist is reluctant to explain their magic, preferring to leave each viewer to experience them in his own way.

Callum Innes’ work is held in renowned public collections including the Guggenheim, New York; Tate Britain; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the National Gallery of Australia; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston; the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin; the Kunsthaus, in Zurich; and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. 

Exhibition view: WestFarbe: Paint vs Colour, Two Rooms, Auckland (31 January–29 February 2020). Courtesy Two Rooms. 

Callum Innes Featured Artworks

View All (35)
Untitled by Callum Innes contemporary artwork
Callum InnesUntitled, 1981Shellac on linen
120 x 120 cm
Not For Sale
Two Rooms
Exposed Painting Delft Blue by Callum Innes contemporary artwork
Callum InnesExposed Painting Delft Blue, 2018Oil on linen
235 x 230 cm
Ingleby Gallery Enquire about this work
Exposed Painting Cadmium Orange by Callum Innes contemporary artwork
Callum InnesExposed Painting Cadmium OrangeOil on linen
Variable dimensions
Two Rooms Enquire about this work

Callum Innes Current & Recent Exhibitions

View All (6)
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, WestFarbe: Paint vs Colour at Two Rooms, Auckland
Open Now
31 January–29 February 2020 Group Exhibition WestFarbe: Paint vs Colour Two Rooms, Auckland
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Abstract by Nature at Sean Kelly, New York
28 June–2 August 2019 Group Exhibition Abstract by Nature Sean Kelly, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Callum Innes, Callum Innes at Sean Kelly, Taipei
16 January–30 March 2019 Callum Innes Sean Kelly, Taipei

Callum Innes Represented By

Callum Innes In Related Press

Interview with Callum Innes Related Press Interview with Callum Innes 20 July 2016, art*zine

On view at i8 gallery from June 9th-August 6th is a solo show by the Scottish painter, Callum Innes. Born in Edinburgh in 1962, he studied at Gray’s School of Art and the Edinburgh College of Art. Erin Honeycutt sat down with him at i8 gallery the day of the opening to discuss his past and future work.

Fade out copy.
Read More
A moment's pause: Callum Innes creates a space in time Related Press A moment's pause: Callum Innes creates a space in time 16 June 2016, The Reykjavík Grapevine

Callum Innes sits in the lounge area of the i8 gallery, looking at a flyer while he thinks. He picks up a pen, and unconsciously presses it to the card, about a third of the way in from the left edge. He moves the pen to the centre, and tilts his head slightly, regarding the flyer, now split in two by his line. He shifts the pen to the right edge,...

Fade out copy.
Read More

Callum Innes In Video & Audio

Ingleby Gallery Callum Innes Related Video & Audio Ingleby Gallery Callum Innes 23 March 2018, Ingleby Gallery

Callum Innes is one of the leading abstract painters of his generation, widely recognised for the distinctive visual language of layering and removing pigment that he has developed over the past 20 years. In this film Innes invites us into his Edinburgh studio and discusses the making of his Exposed Paintings, the series of works for which he is...

Fade out copy.
View Video
Callum Innes – 'I'm Curious About Colour' | TateShots Related Video & Audio Callum Innes – 'I'm Curious About Colour' | TateShots 10 February 2011, Tate

TateShots travelled to Edinburgh to meet Callum Innes, one of the artists featured in Tate Britain's 'Watercolour' exhibition.

Fade out copy.
View Video

Be among the first to know when new artworks and exhibitions by Callum Innes are added to Ocula.


Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.

Scan to follow Ocula on WeChat.
iCal GoogleYahooOutlook