Born in London, Alan Hathaway is a visual artist currently based in the North East of England. His work is held in private collections internationally as well as the British Museum’s drawing and print archive.
He uses installation, film and print to appropriate and represent cultural fragments drawn from the recent histories of modernist abstraction and pop culture. He is concerned with understanding cultural production as a form of apolitical resistance – and the way in which abstraction has been utilised within visual art and experimental music to affect cultural change.
As a teenager growing up in Britain during the 1980s, the way in which popular music at that time drew upon visual art, film, literature, philosophy and politics – offered a compelling alternative to what he describes as his “otherwise limited and claustrophobic, suburban, working class environment”. His early immersion in the Dada and Situationist inspired Mclaren/Reid Sex Pistols project and Manchester’s Factory label, are key to understanding his preoccupation with the use of aesthetics and appropriation within programmes of cultural disruption. Whilst both projects engaged directly with the language of abstraction through their use of monochrome record sleeves and détournement of found graphic motifs, they can also be seen more broadly as inter-disciplinary ‘social’ abstractions; encompassing critiques of visual art, the music industry, design, fashion, publishing, community, commerce and work.
As such, Hathaway continues to utilise the contested formal language of modernist abstraction to create highly reductive artworks which point towards other forms of image making, cultural histories and most recently improvised sound performance. The particular material and technological manifestations of both abstraction and pop culture ‘sampled’ within his work – absence, redaction, monochrome colour, analogue audio/video, CRT screen technology, half tone printing, digital glitches and code – function as the raw material which which he constructs new work, whilst simultaneously highlighting the way in which subtle material encounters with both objects and ideas shape our collective cultural memories.
The artist sees all of his work as an attempt to interrogate and re-imagine historic ideas of cultural resistance in order to generate similarly resistant contemporaneous activity, or new ways of “escaping the banal fact of being in the world” (Simon Critchley).