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is interested in these styles because their contradictory cultural values, as both ‘high art’ archetypes and outdated defunct fashions, present interesting creative challenges.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.

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