Gallery: Pékin Fine Arts
Artist(s): Phénix Varbanov
Opening / Event Date: 28 Jul, 2023
Closing / End Date: 30 Sep, 2023
Hong Kong art gallery Art Supermarket is pleased to present Timekeeper II, the second 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.
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.
Norman O’Flynn, South Africa
Norman O’Flynn born (b. 1971), lives and works in Cape Town as a painter, sculptor and all round constructor. He graduated from BA Fine Arts, Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, South Africa. Norman has a deep understanding of the pop art tradition and explores the meaning of this genre in today’s context. Daily encounters with people and media are his creative inspiration. The state of humanity is questioned and interpreted in his work with ironically portrayed by playful and harmless manner, an intentional cynical and dark sense of humour.
With regards to medium, he uses oil paint and acrylic on plexi-glass, combined with a technique of layering and patterning. The transparent plexi-glass layers generate a “flat and shiny” look tying in with the strong pop art influence. By using a process called reverse-glass painting Flynn layers imagery drawn from the outside world, combining elements into a consumable product. In doing so he speaks to the ways in which culture is presented, processed and passed on. “I work on a plexi-glass, using a technique called reverse-glass painting, simply put my first color look like the last color. I start black and work my way back. The colors are on the top each other and working in reverse to complete the painting. The glass gives the painting slick continually profile. It is almost like packaged and ready for consumption.”