It’s no surprise that the meditative pull of Agnes Martin’s light-filled abstractions carry significance for an artist like Callum Innes, but the reason for following his work with hers in this sequence is as much personal as art historical. The very first time that I saw a full exhibition of Martin’s exquisitely lyrical paintings, as opposed to a few works here or there in various museums and collections, was in Callum’s company on an unforgettable trip to Dia Beacon in February 2002. We were with another friend, the artist David Austen, and made the trip up the Hudson on the Poughkeepsie train from Grand Central on a day so cold that icebergs were visible floating downstream. We only had one hat between the three of us and so took it in turns to have a moment of warmth. At Beacon we were met by the painter Winston Roeth who, through a curator friend at Dia, had arranged an out of hours visit to the museum. The four of us wandered those amazing rooms in total isolation. It was an extraordinary experience.
We have been lucky enough to include Agnes Martin’s work in a number of exhibitions over the past two decades, including a glorious & archetypal painting(such as the one shown here) in the 2002 exhibition 'Abstraction' which paired antiquities with great abstract paintings. Agnes Martin’s work appeared with an exquisite Babylonian duck from around 2000 BC.
Some years later, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art unveiled a collection of Agnes Martin’s paintings as one of their ‘Artist Rooms’. On the same evening as we opened an exhibition of Callum’s work at our gallery and hosted a dinner in their joint honour in Callum’s top lit Edinburgh studio. It was a fine evening, although in retrospect I may have made too great a claim in my speech for Agnes Martin being Scottish… her people having originally hailed from the Isle of Skye. The same is true of Trump, so maybe such claims should be left to lie.