Hetain Patel’s art is about ‘identity and language, challenging common assumptions based on how we look or where we come from.’ Growing up in ‘the only brown family’ in a small northern town, he found refuge from racist abuse in superhero fantasies. He read Spider-Man comics, watched Kung Fu movies, and took philosophy lessons from Bruce Lee. His debt to these is expressed in The Jump (2015) and Don’t Look at the Finger (2017), short moving image works in which gesture and body language replace the spoken word. The final part of this trilogy, Trinity (2021), is also concerned with modes of communication, centring on the discovery of a physical combative language that once united humanity.
Hetain Patel (born 1980, Bolton) lives and works in London. Patel studied at Nottingham Trent University.
I’m interested in how we read each other as human beings, whether it’s our gender, ethnicity, or what we’re wearing. I’m interested in transforming, visually and physically, those things that we read as identity.
– Hetain Patel