Norman O’Flynn - Timekeeper 174: Love, try some

Norman O’Flynn painted the first Timekeeper portrait in 2015. It started as an impromptu portrait of a friend but became much more as he added tattoo-like sketches and slogans relevant to this person’s life. He did more paintings similar in style and realised these images and slogans had less to do with the subject in the portrait than it had with the world in which they live. It turned out to be a reflection of what is happening right now, in other words, it was a reflection of our time. And so the Timekeeper series came to be. "I realised that what came out was just me observing the glitch. I wasn’t trying to tell anyone what to do or what I think. I just showed them what I saw,” says Norman. A Norman O’Flynn iconography developed. One filled with bombs falling from the sky and timers indicating that time is running out, religious and superhero iconography suggesting our need for someone to save us or for spirituality in any form, sharks circling the waters above us (are we drowning?) and binary code referring to the digital worlds we live in. The figures also always wore masks. “It’s a filter. It protects us from what we take in and what we release, germs, words – all of it” he says. “So I covered the mouths.” As Charl Bezuidenhout of WORLDART writes, “We don’t know who or what to believe in. We also don’t know who or what to believe. So we have become our own gods in this world where we have to look cool and say the right things while time is running out. These are the Timekeepers.”


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Norman O'Flynn

Norman O’Flynn lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. He is a prolific painter and sculptor who has held numerous solo shows and participated in group exhibitions, residencies and workshops across the globe. His love of an interdisciplinary approach and cross-cultural collaboration add extra pep to his distinct visual language, a vocabulary of immediately and globally recognisable imagery. “O’Flynn knows Pop to be an irresistible lure, he also knows it to be the defining symptom of human error. By trafficking inside of it, he exposes its folly and opens up its strengths. ‘The initial image grabs you and pulls you in.’ Once inside, however, we are snagged in ‘unfuckery,’ words, signs, symbols that expose Pop’s corrosive lure. “- Ashraf Jamal, arts writer and author