Manchester Art Gallery

Absent Presence

When the subject is absent, we try to find the missing presence in what remains.

Manchester Art Gallery
Friday 19 June 2015–Sunday 3 January 2016

Manchester Art Gallery recently acquired Exposed Painting Green Lake, 2012, by contemporary artist Callum Innes. This show highlighted works from our collection and took its inspiration from this painting. It looks at how art captures a moment in time and asks how a subject can be present in an artwork, yet absent at the same time.

callum Innes 2014-112.1200x1200

Innes created this Exposed Painting by a process of ‘unpainting’: brushing off the top layer of black paint to reveal the deep green colour underneath, leaving traces of brushstrokes behind. In this way, he both removes the image and leaves its presence visible.

The paintings in this exhibition all require a similar heightened level of looking, a searching for traces of the absent. The artists are often playing with the concept of time, adding presences from the past into scenes of the present.


Callum Innes, Exposed Painting Green Lake, 2012
Photography Heidi Kosaniuk Innes.
Courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery.

John Souch, Sir Thomas Aston at the Deathbed of His Wife, 1635.