|The root of Colvin’s manner is that he has distrusted the photograph. The earliest work of his that I remember was almost graffiti-simple, just a black line drawing of a figure, painted over the desks and chairs of a schoolroom in such a way that nothing coherent would be visible from any other view than precisely that occupied by the camera. Colvin the painter had done complicated things which played with layers of perception and with perspective, but the camera was given only a very simple task to perform.
Here we are, years later, and the same dance is going on. Calum Colvin has added strings to his bow: he paints better than he used to, for a start. He used to be satisfied with coarse, rough markings, which were barely more than an invitation to the viewer to complete the view, like a cartoonist or a poster-artist. Now he paints with more relish in the virtues of paint itself. In addition, he has introduced us to Colvin the sculptor and Colvin the model-maker and Colvin the set-designer, and even Colvin the digital manipulator, and in tandem with all those, to Colvin the researcher, historian and thinker. New skills, new messages. But the elements are still there. First among these is always the collision between the picture surface and any visualisation we can make of what the space looked like when he photographed it. Reading the surfaces is what holds us in the pictures. It’s almost a tactile pleasure, trying to keep one’s balance among all these shifting planes.
Francis Hodgson, Arts Critic