It’s been a stellar year for London-based visual artist Hetty Douglas. Back in January, Finger – a collaborative show at Shoreditch basement gallery 71A – won her press coverage from the likes of Dazed, Complex, Huck, i-D and Vogue. An army of admirers duly followed. “I met a lot of great people through [the show] and felt a lot of support."
Three more group shows and not far off a year later, Hetty is preparing for her fifth show of 2016. Like each of her past exhibitions, it carries a one-word title, Screw. Where the angst-splashed paintings in Finger represented “a quest for meaningful love and true identity in a world that screams fuck me and fuck off”, Hetty’s work in Screw is more contemplative. “I guess my new show explores more about where I’m from, how I grew up and how this affects the other themes that come through in my work – the complexities of superficial relationships and trust. I guess I’m reflecting more on how my childhood and how I grew up has influenced my choices and the emotions that come up now. It’s something I’ve never explored until recently.” Vogue may have dubbed her a “painter for the Instagram generation”, but actually, she’s much more.
Hetty is already plotting her next move with another show. “Then,” she tells us, “I’d love to try and do something bigger in New York or LA – they’re my next steps. And I want to make a book.”
Ahead of Screw, where she will show alongside Alfie Kungu and Joe Clarke, we caught up with Hetty and asked her to talk us – in no uncertain terms – through four of her latest paintings.
“The process consisted of painting the whole thing blue then working from there, which was unusual because I normally leave a lot of white or unprimed space in my works. My mood was moody and I was feeling annoyed about time – or the lack of it.”
“I was thinking this girl I was talking to was really peng and I was thinking about how I still don’t know my alphabet which is embarrassing and I can’t believe I just admitted that. I was feeling less moody that day so I used a bright red in the background.”
“This was my second time painting on acrylic (Perspex or whatever). It felt so smooth, the paint goes on so well and I felt a lot less conscious about what marks I was making on the painting. This was also one of the first time I experimented with neon. I can’t explain why I choose to use neon because I’ve always hated neons. Then again I’ve always hated pink but love using it.”
“This is a sheet of clear perspex which has a white protective coating on the front. I started to peel away the plastic coating and thought it looked good slightly removed from the perspex but with painting underneath it. So I decided to add textured thick lines of neon paint underneath the protective coating and then create a painting on top of the protective coating. I liked how the perspex behind was really shiny and transparent but the coating was so matte and white. I wrote ‘4444’ on this painting when thinking about how expensive and time consuming person-centred therapy is.”
Screw will be open 15 – 20 December at Republic Gallery, Poplar.