Callum Innes was born in Edinburgh in 1962. He studied drawing and painting at Gray's School of Art from 1980 to 1984 and then completed a post-graduate degree at Edinburgh College of Art, in 1985.
Innes began exhibiting in the mid-to-late 1980s and in 1992 had two major exhibitions in public galleries, at the ICA, London and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh. Since then he has emerged as one of the most significant abstract painters of his generation, achieving widespread recognition through major solo and group exhibitions worldwide.
Innes tends to work alternately on a number of disparate series, each of which he repeatedly revisits. In his Exposed Paintings a single color, mixed by the artist, is brushed on to the canvas. Turpentine is then repeatedly applied by brush to remove the paint before it begins to dry. Innes washes away or, as he has described it, "unpaints" the canvas, leaving all but the faintest vestigial traces of color. The result reveals varied veils of color buried within the seemingly monochromatic single pigment. Each finished painting thus suggests a freezing in time of the otherwise momentary arrest of an ongoing process. The play between the additive and subtractive process, the making and unmaking, underlies this sophisticated body of work.
Innes joined Sean Kelly gallery in 1997. He was awarded the Jerwood Prize for Painting in 2002 and the Nat West Prize in 1998. In 1995 Innes was short-listed for the Turner Prize. His critically-acclaimed museum exhibition, From Memory, traveled throughout Europe and Australia and the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, England recently presented an exhibition of his oil paintings and watercolours. Innes's work is included in many major public collections worldwide including: the Tate Gallery, London, England; the Kunstmuseum, Bern, Switzerland; the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Centre George Pompidou, France; The Irish Museum of Modern Art; the Museum of Modern Art, Fort Worth; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; and Deutsche Bank. An installation of callum innes|colm tóibín water|colour, first exhibited at Sean Kelly gallery in 2010, was also featured at Art Basel Unlimited in 2011. In 2012 he was commissioned by the Edinburgh Arts Festival to transform the capital's Regent Bridge, which he illuminated with a changing sequence of colored light. In 2016, Innes was the subject of a major retrospective survey exhibition and accompanying monograph, I'll Close My Eyes, at the De Pont Museum in Tilburg Netherlands.