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Colin McCallum was born in 1956 in Glasgow, Scotland and studied at Camberwell School of Art, London between 1975 and 1979. He lived in Barcelona, Spain from 2002 until 2016 and currently lives and works in east London, UK.
McCallum’s practice extends across painting, printmaking and video-mapped painting installation, through which he evokes the hidden rhythms and patterns of the urban landscape. McCallum makes vibrant, multi-layered abstractions which respond to the visual experience of contemporary urban life and the influence of an ‘always on’ digital culture. His work draws from the vast amount of visual information which informs the sensory experience of urban living, including the pace and speed of the city, its architecture, neon signage, monitor screens, and airport and station displays. Dedicated to exploring the possibilities of abstraction, he has stated that his intention is to “reproduce without representing, evoke without illustrating and express without formulating.”
Recalling computer programming languages or the structure of electrical circuits, the machine aesthetic of McCallum’s work belies its meticulous hand-built method of construction. Juxtaposing technological precision with the imperfection of the artist’s hand, McCallum often uses repeating motifs of vibrating dots and lines to evoke the colour, light, texture and complex patterns of the city’s digital landscape. In his recent work, McCallum is inspired by the vibrance and energy of the city at night, particularly the area around his studio near London’s Canary Wharf, where illuminated skyscrapers rise above a diminishing backdrop of post-industrial docklands.
McCallum’s practice incorporates a variety of materials and techniques, including acrylic, metallic and fluorescent paints, spray paint, stencils and pen. Working in series, his process relies heavily on memory and imagination as opposed to direct observation. In the Template series, paint is poured directly onto the canvas, allowing the material itself partially to dictate line and form. Impossible to replicate, these densely patterned works, like crowd masses or visualisations of digital data, construct an equivalent reality to the immeasurable complexity of the city. In the Flux series, poured paint is dragged across the canvas in long fluid bands of colour, which reveal changing harmonies and disharmonies according to the position of the viewer and suggest a constant rhythm of construction and destruction.