John Hockings’ most recent work blends abstraction and figuration. The subject matter draws from the Northern Australian coastal landscape and the people and objects which populate and re-form it. Through an often awkward juxtaposition of these seemingly ordinary aspects of the world around us, his paintings explore what leads to a sense of place and the way the act of painting can move us to reconsider our understanding of the familiar world.
Just as Italian master Georgio Morandi devoted a lifetime to painting the same assortment of pewter jugs, cups and vases, John Hockings is motivated by this same quest; to render, in his words, the “laboratory of a view”. This is John’s pursuit to register the endless variability with which the landscape meets his naked eye.
For Hockings, the landscape — specifically the Great Sandy Straight — is his idée fixe. Painted from land or on water, our artist returns again and again to this notch of Queensland; responding to the mood and temperature of the “same shed, same patch of water, same islands”.
When Hockings points his brush inland, toward the rolling country of Wide Bay-Burnett, the roadways of Gympie and, with elegance, the intricate gardens of Kyoto, it is the play of wind on branches that beguiles him. Bushland and garden scapes mightn’t share the frothy volatility of the coast – but their environments deliver an equally inexhaustible bank of views and impressions.
The story of Australian landscape art is propelled by one open secret … nature (it’s movement and mayhem) lends itself most faithfully to abstract painting.