b. Sheffield, England, 1992

Based in London, England.

Hetty Douglas depicts the complexities of daily life based on observations of society and self. Behind the seemingly instinctive and accidental lines of her unprimed works are biographical traces that seek to discover the depths of her memories through experimenting with gesture and imperfection.

Working predominately with the medium of painting, Douglas’s art is habitually coated by materials other than paint, including plaster, pollyfiller and cement – drawing inspiration from urban degradation, palimpsest and trompe l’oeil. These ideas culminate in layered canvases featuring errant marks, visible corrections and sloppy smears of colour that feed from the oppositional drama of the application and erasure of mark making within a cityscape. The artist challenges the viewer’s assumptions of what a completed painting is through a finely balanced image that is finished and raw, accidental and deliberate.

Her compositions are imbued with traces of human activity and the possibility to revise or correct an action. The rough canvas resulting from these swift gestures invite the viewer to a crude and spontaneous experience in which each of Douglas's elements seems to appear simultaneously by chance.

The artist reaches a climatic emotional state through the physicality of her actions. Building and destroying the picture, she relays buried feelings of confusion, sadness, hate, love and hope relating to pivotal moments and times in her life. These are embedded within a recurring subdued pastel palette alongside haphazard marks and typographic suggestions, where she captures with just one word an atmosphere of hardship and melancholy, often through a delicately girlish, naïve and sexual twist.

Hetty Douglas’s work is a continuous exploration of herself, everything that she is, says, does, and lives, painted through empty planes full of emotions and with a penchant for suicide. The unsure stroke, the barely started mark, the smear, the smudge, the spot, the awkward attempt… The longer one looks at her work, the wider the vocabulary of failure appears to be.

text by Vanessa Murrell

contact: studio@hettydouglas.com

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