One of Australia’s leading international contemporary Indigenous artists, Waanyi man Gordon Hookey's, work features prominently in The National – New Australian Art exhibition as part of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia's component of this landmark multi-institutional collaborative initiative in Sydney (30 March – 18 June, 2017).
His confronting wall mural, which dominates an internal expanse of the museum, presents a critical and searching examination of contemporary racial tensions and particularly the role of politican Pauline Hanson who is depicted in Hookey’s painting with porcine features. Surrounded by news agency representatives in Klu Klux Klan hoods, Hookey’s ‘Hamsin’ contemplates acts of defecation and intercourse. Behind this imagery, Hookey has painted a mob of kangaroos, standing shoulder to shoulder, wearing sunglasses and gripping spears.
Hookey’s work is known for occupying a space where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultures converge. He often combines figurative characters, iconic symbols, bold sections of text, and vibrant colours. Though this idiosyncratic visual language he has developed a unique and immediately recognisable style. Hookey says his perspective comes from “a divergent, activist positioning that challenges hierarchies, skewering the status and integrity of the ‘elite’ while working to bolster the position of the marginalised and oppressed.”
Hookey joined influential Aboriginal art collective Boomalli in 1992 while attending UNSW Art & Design and completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
Recently Hookey has been honoured with selection for inclusion one of the world’s most significant and prestigious contemporary art events; documenta. Hookey’s contribution forms part of documenta 14’s educational program, including a Conversation about History, Painting, Language, and Colonialism between Gordon Hookey, Hendrik Folkerts, and Vivian Ziherl and a Q&A dialogue, How to Write a Painting, exploring oral and image-based history-making traditions. Convened by documenta 14 curator, Folkerts asks Waanyi Aboriginal artist, Hookey, and international curator, Ziherl, to reflect upon the history of colonisation and resulting political and artistic movements. The lynchpin of their discussion, presented in written and visual form within documenta 14, is a selection of artworks by Hookey and Congolese painter, Tshibumba Kanda Matulu, representing significant moments of political and social unrest in both Australia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
During his career Gordon Hookey's work has been exhibited extensively across Australia and internationally including solo and group projects such as Beyond the Tower: UQ Art Museum - 40 years and counting, University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane; Frontier Imaginaries, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Gordon Hookey: Kangaroo Crew, Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; Recent Drawings: The Kangaroo Series, Nellie Caston Gallery, Melbourne; Contempt Free Hart, Contemporary Arts, Umbrella Studio, Townsville, Queensland; and Ruddocks Wheel, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Sydney. His work featured in Beyond the Pale: Contemporary Indigenous Art, 2000 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art; the RAKA AWARD: Places that name us, The Potter Museum of Art, 2003 and the Biennale of Sydney at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney in 2004. He is the recipient of many awards and residencies including Albers Foundation Studio Residency, Connecticut, USA (Australia Council for the Arts); the Casula Powerhouse Residency, Sydney; the Gertrude Street Contemporary Art Space and Studios Residency, Melbourne; and Umbrella Studios Residency, Contemporary Arts, Townsville, Queensland.