One of Australia’s most renowned contemporary Indigenous artists, Gordon Hookey, has risen to a deserved level of prominence as part of documenta14’s extensive program of exhibitions and events in Kassel (Germany) and as part of The National – New Australian Art at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which runs in three editions in 2017, 2019, and 2021.
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.”
A graduate of UNSW Art & Design, Hookey has exhibited widely throughout Australia in solo and group shows including 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. 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.
In 2017 Hookey was honored with selection in one of the world’s most significant art exhibitions; documenta14. Hookey’s contribution forms part of the 2017 documenta14’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 documenta14 curator, Folkerts asks Waanyi Aboriginal artist, Hookey, and international curator, Ziherl, to reflect upon the history of colonization and resulting political and artistic movements. The lynchpin of their discussion, presented in written and visual form within documenta14, 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.