Callum Innes: I Look To You (3 stars)

Compelling new work by leading abstract painter

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Callum Innes: I Look To You

Sheets of oil colour have meshed into linen and expanded themselves over wooden stretchers. Some reveal a matte finish, others sparkle with glossiness, all have bleeding lines around the edges. These extremities are clues for the anterior panels: like blue veins running along the inner arm of a pale white body, the skin of the canvas is pulled taut over its stretched bones.

Edinburgh painter Callum Innes has long been recognised as a leading figure in the genre of abstract painting. His style articulates a monochromatic language and (by a stretch of the imagination) this exhibition of new work reveals an unexpected connection to the art of taxidermy.

His work might appear formulaic at first glance, but any painter will tell you how difficult it is to make a good abstract painting. To reach perfection through non-action and reiterating fields of colour onto raw materials can be likened to the skill of zipping the pelt without snagging the organs.

Lucio Fontana slashed his canvases, and Innes has a similar understanding of the language of working with canvas but comes to it from a different angle. Each large canvas is divided into two parts: one is painted white and the other in colour. His paintings counterbalance the interiors of the gallery.

While the planes of colour jump out and recede rhythmically, each canvas radiates an aura of light onto a white walled backdrop, allowing the eye to pick up subtle shades of blue, green and yellow bouncing off the stark white.

Ingleby Gallery, 556 4441, until 19 Sep 2009, free.

Callum Innes

  • 3 stars

Over the past 20 years Edinburgh born Callum Innes has emerged as one of the leading abstract painters of his generation making work which stands defiantly against the tide of the quick fix that has dominated the sensibility of so many of his contemporaries. Instead, his quietly seductive paintings have continued to nudge…

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