There are various veins to Hitesh's work that operate as differing ways of looking at the same thing. The object is his personal identity and the history that has produced it. A history tempered by his choice of becoming an artist - giving him licence to reflect and speak about his own and his family's story.
Hitesh's collages within these various strains act like a set of re-mixes of his history; cut-and-pasted imagery from his personal experiences, he has constructed a kind of visual map - layering references from popular culture over and under his own 'Indian-ness'. In the face of the recent and rapid process of globalisation any idea of a fixed cultural identity today is fast becoming rendered non-performative. The end of colonialism, while freeing millions of people from oppression, left a space in which globalisation has made all cultural identity seemingly homogenous. National and localised identity has given way to multi-national consumerism and the awe of an intangible network of products and services.
Today we are what we buy. The global marketplace now determines who we are and how we behave. But it is exactly the plethora of contemporary and historical visual imagery that is the stuff of Hitesh's art. In the media of collage he works and plays with the endless possibilities of image-jamming through happenstance and accident - but cleverly mediated by a personal narrative.
The idea behind the portrait paintings is a similar one of presenting cultural loss and gain by means of a cathartic reconstruction of historically rich pop iconography that is specifically western, but now also represents the Indian culture that existed in the shadows during Hitesh's upbringing in the England of the 1960s and 70s.
This is achieved by retro fitting either Hitesh or his wife Manisha into iconography of the time, in illustrations and movie posters, thereby rebalancing this racist misdemeanour. It also allows an expression of an Indian glamour that has not existed in such western cultural iconographies till only very recently, and to comment on the cultural cross hatching that has taken place in only the last generation, the phenomena of the mixed couple which was such a taboo is now common place.
The indian in western society has gone from a position of non representation to over representation in a blink of an eye, so much so that it is hard to know where one stands any more, or indeed if there still exists a need to comment on the issue.
Finally, I wanted to add about my own work a note regarding my use of abstract forms. It is a way of working that for me goes beyond my Art historical education. In my early teenage years I read a lot of comics, but more than reading would love the visuals. Especially the work of Jack Kerby, whose graphics though representational, could also be viewed abstractedly if viewed in microcosm.
Later on, while going through art school, I fell in love with modern and contemporary abstract art. Everyone from Robert Motherwell to William Scott and from Kurt Schwitters to Robert Rauschenberg, have been, and remain great inspirations.