In the Studio: Yellow fever: In the first of a new series on young artists, Iain Gale meets Callum Innes

CALLUM INNES emerged on the art scene in the 1990 British Art Show with his distinctive small abstract works on paper, partly controlled by chance. Now an established painter, in his most recent work (on view at the Lisson Gallery, London) he has developed those early experiments into large two-tone paintings which he terms 'exposed'.

'The paintings have become more structured, very controlled, almost completely planned. In an exposed painting I know the proportion I want. Then I make a line. That's the instinctive part - knowing where to leave it. The line is always made from the bottom of the canvas to the top. That way I can control it.'

Although the results call to mind the 1950s hard-edge abstraction of Kelly, Smith and Noland, Innes is careful to avoid admitting direct influence. 'It's important when you work within a language and a territory that someone else has worked in that you develop that language yourself. But I do have artists that I look at - Fontana, Cezanne, Newman, Rothko.'

Like all of these painters, Innes's work derives from his figurative training. 'When I make a single line in a painting I see it as figurative. A line has the same kind of tangibility as a life drawing. People can look at my works as hard abstracts, but they're also incredibly physical, personal paintings. To me, exposing a canvas is like exposing a part of yourself.'

So is there a direct connection between Innes's new paintings and perceived reality?

'I don't deny a metaphor. And sizes are important. The largest canvas is 1.9 metres wide, which is my span. It's not deliberate, but I don't feel I should go any larger. Then the viewer comes in. A piece of work is only finished when a viewer has spent time with it. I think it's very important that a work has a spiritual quality. I take a lot of personal thought to my paintings. Each painting is only done when it feels right. That's why there are so many series. I don't do five exposed paintings at one time. I go from exposed paintings to 'quotation' paintings to 'repetition' paintings.'

Apart from the increase in size, the obvious change in his work is the limited introduction of colour. He does not see this as radical.

'There's always been colour in my work. When I was doing the white paintings, I always read them as colour-field paintings. White on a canvas ground has its own colour. The ground comes through the white and the way in which that reflects light involves colour. Last year, I did one yellow painting. Yellow is an extreme colour. I wanted to push my painting to another extremity - to go quite hard.'

Does colour imply a new decorative quality? 'I tread a thin line between the work being decorative or not. I'm always walking a tightrope. If it's just decorative, well, forget it. But if a work sustains a tension that comes from the structure and the line, it can be decorative-aesthetic - and also have a reasoning behind it. I don't know where this new work is taking me. But it's nice when you surprise yourself.'

Callum Innes. Born Edinburgh 1962. Grays School of Art, Aberdeen; Edinburgh College of Art. His work is included in 'Wonderful Life' at the Lisson Gallery, 52-54 Bell St, London NW1, to 16 Oct

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam