Iain Hetherington

Iain Hetherington Exhibited at The Saatchi Gallery

Iain Hetherington
Diversified Cultural Worker 7


Oil on canvas

81 x 71 x 2 cm

Iain Hetherington conceives his paintings as a mode of addressing cultural hierarchies. His canvases are elusive portraits depicting not people, but the signifiers by which they are labelled by others. His recurring motifs of street gang ephemera, such as baseball caps and gold chains, speak of the hypocritical perception within art – as well as other fields – of society’s ‘disenfranchised’ elements. “Anti-elitist views can be the most elitist of all,” Hetherington says. “Social ‘inclusion’ often means telling people what they are capable or not capable of understanding.” In his Diversified Cultural Worker series, Hetherington presents thuggish apparel as empty costumes, ‘derogatory’ designations that might be worn by anyone – from yobs to museum curators – blurring the roles of common bullies and PC policy makers.

Iain Hetherington
Diversified Cultural Worker 8


Oil on canvas

72 x 64 cm

In Diversified Cultural Worker 8, Hetherington’s disembodied hat and necklace draw upon the cultural values associated with certain objects and fashions. In this way, Hetherington’s composition becomes both a portrait and still life, translating the life-style aspiration aspects of still life into props for character adaptation. Hetherington embeds these motifs within a dynamic field of garish colour that is simultaneously opulent and savage. Layers of intensified hues congregate in carnal textures reminiscent of baroque high drama, blurring notions of decadence, banality, and violence.

Iain Hetherington
Diversified Cultural Worker 6


Oil on canvas

81 x 71 x 2 cms
Hetherington’s canvases set his vacant portraits against painterly backgrounds that draw from a myriad of conventional art historical associations, from impressionism and abstract expressionism to idyllic dappled landscapes. Hetherington is interested in these styles because their contradictory cultural values, as both ‘high art’ archetypes and outdated defunct fashions, present interesting creative challenges. “The way people view art, you feel there are so many things you can’t do anymore,” Hetherington explains, “I’m trying to see if there’s still some signifying power in the abstract elements.” This notion of labelling aesthetics – as with ‘types’ of people – as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is eradicated in Hetherington’s work. His intuitive use of thick impastos and haphazard gestures replicates an artist’s palette; in removing categorisation and biased value systems all that’s left is just painting and its own integrity.
Iain Hetherington
Composite Picture 1 (Diversified Cultural Worker)


Oil on canvas

76.2 x 71.1 cm

Hetherington describes his style of painting as, “a sort of realism that draws on the traditions of Courbet: making plays on awkward issues, laying them on the surface.” This sense of the gritty nature of social taboo becomes manifest in Hetherington’s use of paint. Composite Picture 1 sets overlapped images of baseball caps, adorned with the favoured logos of Glaswegian neds, into a brutal field of colour. The combination of recessive and thrusting hues creates an almost tangible sense of space in the canvas, setting the stage for Hetherington’s painterly action: as brush marks battle for ground in sooty scribbles, caked on gobs of sickly yellows, and smears of red like flesh hitting asphalt. Its surface holds an aggressive tension and apprehension that is simultaneously discomforting and beautiful. His canvases are sized according to human scale, as if the viewer is confronting an ‘other’.

Iain Hetherington
Design For Monument To Sir Francis Galton


Oil on canvas

66 x 76.2 cm

Sir Francis Galton was Charles Darwin’s cousin; a polymath in his own right, his many research interests included developing systems for classifying people. He pioneered the use of questionnaires, surveys and the collection of statistics to define social groups. He was also the inventor of a practice called ‘composite photography’ which used the comparative analysis of peoples’ portraits to determine their character ‘type’. Through this system, he aspired to identify the common facial features of criminals. Hetherington’s Design For Monument To Sir Francis Galton poses a teenager’s baseball cap on top of a road works cone – a stolen object ever popular with vandals looking to deface public sculptures. The cone becomes both a readily identifiable ‘face’ of deviance, as well as signifying fool’s ‘hat’ for the classifiers of this defiance.

Other artists in

Caroline Achaintre    Tasha Amini    Hurvin Anderson    Maurizio Anzeri    Jonathan Baldock    Anna Barriball    Steve Bishop    Karla Black    Lyn. Yiadom Boakye    Pablo Bronstein    Alan Brooks    Peter Linde Busk    Carla Busuttil    Nicholas Byrne    Gareth Cadwallader    Juliana Cerqueira Leite    Spartacus Chetwynd    Steven Claydon    Clarisse d'Arcimoles    William Daniels    Matthew Darbyshire    Graham Durward    Tim Ellis    Tom Ellis    Richard Evans    Tessa Farmer    Marcus Foster    Robert Fry    Ximena Garrido-Lecca    Jaime Gili    Nick Goss    Luke Gottelier    Kate Groobey    Anthea Hamilton    Anne Hardy    Gabriel Hartley    Nicholas Hatfull    Iain Hetherington    Alexander Hoda    Sigrid Holmwood    James Howard    Graham Hudson    Dean Hughes    Des Hughes    Mustafa Hulusi    Paul Johnson    Edward Kay    Idris Khan    Scott King    Ansel Krut    littlewhitehead    Christina Mackie    Alastair Mackinven    Goshka Macuga    Ryan Mosley    Rupert Norfolk    Arif Ozakca    Mark Pearson    Dan Perfect    Peter Peri    Olivia Plender    Henrijs Preiss    Ged Quinn    Clunie Reid    Barry Reigate    Luke Rudolf    Maaike Schoorel    Daniel Silver    David Brian Smith    Renee So    Fergal Stapleton    Clare Stephenson    Systems House    Caragh Thuring    Phoebe Unwin    Donald Urquhart    Jonathan Wateridge    John Wynne    Toby Ziegler

Iain Hetherington's Biography

Iain Hetherington
1978 Born in Glasgow, Scotland
Lives and works in Glasgow


Masters Degree in Fine Art, Glasgow School of Art

BA (Hons) Fine Art, Painting, Glasgow School of Art


Nought to Sixty, ICA, London (August) - solo
Diversified Cultural Workers, Mary Mary, Glasgow

Other Mixed Background, Whitechapel Project Space, London
Eyes in the Heat, Glasgow Project Room, Glasgow

Who We Want, 656 Alexandra Parade, Glasgow

Knowlij Enclave, Collective Gallery, Edinburgh
Interstitial Campsite, Glasgow Project Room, Glasgow


Group show, Monica de Cardenas Gallery, Milan

La Commune, Serpentine Gallery, London*
Iain Hetherington/Lynn Hynd, Studio 40, Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow

126 Gallery, Galway City, Ireland
Survey Show of 126 Projects, Galway Arts Centre, Ireland

Slimvolume Poster Publication, Fortescue Avenue/Jonathan Vyner, London*
Campbell’s Soup, Mackintosh Gallery, Glasgow
The Last Chickens of Sainsbury, The Chateau, Glasgow & W.A.S.P.S, Glasgow*

Spacemakers 13, Lothringer Dreizehn, Munich*
Publish & Be Damned, Cubitt, London*
The Principle of Hope, Three Colts Gallery, London*
Show Me To The Tradesman’s Entrance, Tramway, Glasgow
Synth, Kunstraum B/2, Leipzig
Transmission, Grazer Kunstverein, Graz

We Make Our Own, Tablet Gallery, London*
MFA Interim Show, Mackintosh Gallery, Glasgow

Untitled Group Show, Transmission Gallery, Glasgow
Embarkation for Cythera, Andrew Mummery Gallery, London
Hampstead Achieved, K.Jackson’s, Edinburgh*
Tableware (Lapland Multiples), The Lighthouse, Glasgow*

Collective Gallery, Glasgow Art Fair, Glasgow

Citizen 2000, Collective Gallery, Edinburgh
* indicates collaborative work with Alex Pollard on fanzines