Gallery: Axel Vervoordt Gallery
Artist(s): Ryuji Tanaka
Opening / Event Date: 19 Oct, 2019
Closing / End Date: 1 Feb, 2020
Hong Kong art gallery Art Supermarket is pleased to present Timekeeper, the first Hong Kong solo exhibition of selected works from South African pop-artist Norman O’Flynn. Timekeeper collection is distinctive tattooed portraits, rendered in O’Flynn’s characteristic “re-pop” style, conveying a tough attitude and social value against the violence and darkness in the world. The exhibition is from 27th September 2018 to 12th January 2019 and the opening reception is on 27th September 2018, Thursday, 6-9pm at Art Supermarket.
Timekeeper depicts a tribe of unshakable observers, striking figures covered in frenetic and portentous tattoo-like markings. It suggests tattoos function, like the rings inside a tree trunk, accumulates over time, and experience and emotion are selectively archived on the skin.
O’Flynn advances this veritable tribe as one haunted by impending violence, a doomsday cult. This group appears to have transcended time and immortal. On the svelte and good-looking appearance, however, they have been through a lot, which is reflected by the bodies covered with marks and designs. Apart from the usual clichéd tattoos — ranging from mermaids, roses, snakes to cute animals and bugs — there are countdown clocks and stylised motifs of explosions. It commemorates the people have survived the trauma and have beaten time in a nation haunted by the violence of its history and high crime. That is why an untouchable attitude is exuding from their confrontational stances, arms crossed, chests puffed out, gazing out at viewers.
O’Flynn’s distinctive tattooed portraits, which are covered by tattoos from head to toe and wearing scarves over their faces hide their identities, leads viewers to wonder where they come from. Actually, O’Flynn uses real people as subjects, sometimes people he knows or strangers. However, he conceals their identities by obscuring their faces through his distinctive portraiture, which pushes them through ‘O’Flynn filter’. A way of joining a tribe, which suppresses individuality and advances homogeneity, gives the viewers a sense of immersion and social resonance. In O’Flynn’s fantasy world, a new kind of superhero has been created. Everyone could be the tough heroes or heroines, the timekeepers, who share similar tattoos, means a tribe united by the same values, and an expression of the allegiance to their belief, to make the world better and better.