Waanyi/Waanjiminjin peoples | Cloncurry, Queensland born 1961.
‘Untitled’, 1994, oil on canvas. Acquired 1995.
On show in the Riverbend Room at the Drill Hall Gallery for Reconciliation week 2021.
In his art Gordon Hookey mixes politics, double entendre and irony to make light of very serious situations facing contemporary Indigenous Australia. This is not done to trivialise real problems, but to offer a point of entry for discussing things that many would otherwise simply store in their ‘too hard basket’. Working across painting, works on paper, sculpture and installation, Hookey has employed these qualities to develop a professional practice that is located at the interface where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultures converge.
His style and approach is distinctive in its vibrancy and best known for its biting satire of Australia’s political landscape, its leaders and representatives. Hookey’s work combines figurative characters, iconic symbols, bold comic-like text and a spectrum of colours. His comic-like characters, use of crass language, poetic devices and lurid visual jokes invite a range of viewers to engage with real politics and problems.
His perspective comes from a divergent, activist positioning; his work challenges hierarchies, skewering the status and integrity of the ‘elite’ while working to bolster the position of the marginalised and oppressed. Hookey is a core member of the Brisbane-based Indigenous collective proppaNOW, alongside artists including Richard Bell, Vernon Ah Kee and Jennifer Herd.