Samantha Hobson sees her world through a fine film of passion and this conveys itself in her art. The artist rarely uses representational motifs, preferring to swirl intensely coloured layers of paint across the canvas. Her style is close to abstract expressionism but there is always something that keeps in touch with visible reality. This is because her art is about a way of seeing the world, not a way of imagining it. Her different series of paintings that include fire paintings, flying over the reef series, beach at night/coral spawn, and Friday night scenes are instigated by visual clues that we can identify. Flames, coral, waves and blood are evident in the imagery, but from that point it becomes a passage into Hobson’s emotional connection with her world.
An early series of paintings explored the theme of stress. These paintings were particularly poignant in that they usually included a fine black line representing a noose. Youth suicide is a disturbing fact of life in far too many Aboriginal communities like Lockhart River, and the brutal simplicity of Hobson’s portrayal conveys the almost matter-of-fact record of its occurrence. The imagery depicts the build-up of stress in a remarkably direct fashion…
…Of all the Lockhart River artists, Hobson arguably poses the greatest challenge to stereotypical ideas about Aboriginal art. Many of her paintings seem to be simply about the aesthetics of paint, with little or no reference to the cultural intellectual property of her people. Other Aboriginal artists such as Emily Kngwarreye achieved success with styles that were as abstract or apparently non-representational as Hobson’s. However, the aesthetic could always be traced back to origins in body painting designs or traditional iconography in some aspect. Kngwarreye’s abstract style was considered to be a reductive interpretation of inherited iconography. With Hobson’s painting there is no such link to be made. Her paintings from series such as Coral Spawn and Beach at Night refer to aspects of Sandbeach country, but for many audiences they are portrayed in a way that aheres to a completely western style of art. There is no reductive link to traditional iconography or a stylistic inheritance.
Excerpt: Sally Butler, 2007 OUR WAY Contemporary Aboriginal Art from Lockhart River, UQP