‘With my work in abstraction, I think about it as photography, as photography freezes moments in time, so I work with time more than anything else …’

Callum Innes (b. 1962, Edinburgh) is known for luminous abstractions that push at the fundamentals of painting: pigment, surface and space. Composed of opaque sections juxtaposed with thin, translucent washes that appear almost permeable, his paintings invoke a dynamic conversation between presence and absence. Through this unique, spare vocabulary, Innes achieves a vast range of atmospheres and effects.


Innes generally works in series, allowing his methods to build upon each other and evolve gradually while he works on several paintings at the same time. The Exposed Paintings series exemplifies his technique of creating a play between painting and un-painting, where sections of the painting have been washed away with turpentine. Exposed Painting Caribbean Turquoise (2021), for instance, features interlocking sections of radiant and opaque passages of paint, the range of blues conjuring atmospheres of different textures and densities. Untitled Lamp Black No. V (2018) appears at first to be only two colours, but a closer look reveals a range of complex hues and shades. Innes started by painting the entire canvas black before applying repeated washes of turpentine to remove paint from part of the surface, leaving all but the faintest vestigial traces of pigment. The remaining black part of the canvas is then painted with another colour, resulting in a luminous, shifting surface that evokes different registers of time.