HOOPER, Julian; Liliu series
‘Liliu’, which means ‘to change’ or ‘transform’ in the Tongan language, recounts fragments of stories of European colonists in the Pacific as experienced by members of Hooper’s family. In the watercolour Flight, Count Gideon Vecsey is depicted on a rearing black horse against a tumultuous landscape, evoking his 1870 departure from Hungary for Fiji. Being the first in his family to arrive in the Pacific, Vecsey stands in for all his descendants – including the artist, who becomes a player in the narrative.
Hooper borrows from European and Pacific art in his exploration of Vecsey’s amorous and financial undertakings, and ends his account of Vecsey’s experience by depicting him in the manner of a Tongan ngatu (barkcloth). The phrase Sub hoc signo vinces is taken from the Count’s family seal and translates as ‘Under this sign we shall conquer’. However, Hooper explains that Vecsey is ‘transformed from the experience of Fiji but hardly victorious as he takes flight once again, bankrupt and a cuckold’.