The Director’s Archive: Callum Innes, From Memory, 2007

In February 2007, almost a decade ago, Modern Art Oxford presented From Memory, a major exhibition of paintings by the acclaimed Scottish artist, Callum Innes (b. Edinburgh, 1962). Innes has attracted international admiration since the 1990s and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1995 for his large paintings where paint is applied then removed, reapplied and removed, creating an abstraction where the surface of the canvas appears to move and flow.

Oil on canvas

Art critic Richard Cork described Innes as being ‘bound up with the need for subtraction’. Continuing modernism’s interest in abstraction and painterly processes, Innes’s work traces its origins to the great American painters Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Brice Marden, all artists for whom an existentialist mode of being present was a primary effect.

Oil on canvas

I chose to highlightthis exhibition because it seems to me to be a particularly appropriate show for us to return to, having just opened The Indivisible Present, the inaugural exhibition of our KALEIDOSCOPEshow running through the year and marking our 50th anniversary. The Indivisible Present is an exhibition that reflects on the complex nature of our experience and understanding of time; the way in which it can be distorted, mediated and constructed. Innes is an artist for whom time is both an affect and a medium, creating beautiful meditative paintings where the moment is suspended in the encounter with the work.

Oil and shellac on canvas

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