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I'm an arts journalist & PR consultant living and working in Scotland. I've been a journalist for more than 25 years. I write a regular column for Scottish quality newspaper, The Herald. I deliver a PR service with an arty bent and work on a consultancy basis with arts organisations, including Scotland's leading creative industries festival, XpoNorth & broadcast support body, ScreenHI. I am currently co-writing a book about the celebrated Scots artist, George Wyllie, with his daughter Louise. Instrumental in making a celebration of his life's work happen in 2012. For more information, see www.georgewyllie.com When I'm not being a mum/working, I talk to my dog. He laps it up. Contact me on janpatience@me.com (All work © Jan Patience)

Monday, 30 April 2012

Callum Innes at Ingleby Gallery

This is an unedited version of a preview of the Callum Innes exhibition at Edinburgh's Ingleby Gallery, which opened last weekend.
Beautiful, beautiful work...

Callum Innes: Works on Paper 1989-2012
Ingleby Gallery
15 Calton Road, Edinburgh
0131 556 4441
Until July 14
Callum Innes at work 'desculpting' pastels in his Edinburgh studio

THERE is something special about walking into an airy white space gallery when an exhibition is still being hung. Especially if the artist is in the building, as he is when I walk in to the Ingleby Gallery to see 60 newly delivered works on paper by Callum Innes.

Edinburgh-based Innes, who trained at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen in the early 1980s was short-listed for the Turner and Jerwood Prizes in 1995 at the age of just 33.

His work is cooly controlled and quietly beautiful. Abstracted patches of colour, lines and the occasional raggedness around the edges in the paper, pull you in to the point where the abstraction makes perfect sense.

My immediate response, as I wander around looking at the as-yet unhung work, is that these pictures feel like beautiful people you meet at a party who have a ‘face’ on. Talk to them for a bit, and dig deeper, and you’ll catch little imperfections and the reality of what lies beneath.

According to Florence Ingleby, Innes’ work is ‘like a pause which allows you to stop’.
“That is what I appreciate,” she says. “Works which are representational can do that too but the beauty of abstract art like this is that it makes you stop and allows you to go inside.

“What Callum can do with colour is amazing. What he knows about it is amazing.”

Seeing Innes’ work from the late 1980s onwards, as you can do here, gives an insight into his consistency as an artist. 

Whereas some artists might have been tempted to go off at tangents and explore new ways of making their art, Innes has stayed true to his vision. 

In all his work – in oil on canvas, as well as pastel and watercolour on paper – he brings a workmanlike approach to creating beguiling work which has been described as ‘unpainting’.  In his watercolours, this is revealed in his painting over white. In his oils, he uses turps to ‘unpaint’. Masking tape allows his to create razor sharp lines with the odd edge of imperfection.

As well as older works, there are three new series here which will delight fans of Innes’ work; a line of five pastels are treated like a reverse sculpture; the chalky pigment ground back to dust and worked into thick pages of handmade paper, a sequence of 18 watercolours in which pairs of pigments are dissolved into each other, layer over layer, into veils of translucent light, and a series of ten tall, vertical sheets of waxed butcher’s paper, carry oil paint dissolved into skins of solid and liquid colour. 

Take yourself away from the madding crowd and spend some time pausing with this work. What lies beneath makes perfect sense.
*Callum Innes will be at Ingleby Gallery in conversation with Fiona Bradley, director of the Fruitmarket Gallery this Wednesday, May 30, at 6.30 pm

Untitled from 2012 by Callum Innes

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