WORLDART will present ‘Gnomon’, Norman O’Flynn’s newest solo exhibition, at their gallery on 54 Church Street, Cape Town, from May 3 to 31. The exhibition furthers the artist’s investigation into work in acrylic on acrylic glass and includes large-scale silk-thread tapestry work, as well as announcing a return to sculptural forms that have been dormant in O’Flynn’s practice since the mid-2000s.
‘Gnomon’ offers up a fresh batch of ‘Timekeepers’ – the ongoing series of larger-than-life, layered portraits on acrylic glass. A tribe of unshakable observers, striking figures rendered in O’Flynn’s characteristic “re-pop” style, and for the most part covered in frenetic and portentous tattoo-like markings. The ‘Timekeepers’ have come to play an admonitory role in O’Flynn’s oeuvre – they hold a mirror to the present moment, insinuating Baudrillard’s proposition that “the map that precedes the territory”; the representation that governs the real.
In ‘Gnomon’, O’Flynn takes a few moments to pause and reflect, most clearly in ‘Timekeeper 78’ who, with her Magdalene-esque way, opens the series up to an additional role as gatekeeper of multiplicity in the future.
‘Gnomon’ also sees O’Flynn deftly returning to sculpture in the form of an installation of rounded fertility-god-like figures. The sculptures are aptly made from a mash-up of historical materials, such as Carrara marble that O’Flynn collected in Tuscany, and contemporary modes, such as 3D printing. The sculptures broaden the meditative potential introduced in this body of work, as remnants of a culture that has been obliterated – our own. These figures look both back and forward, containing in their voluptuousness the seeds of hope.
The title of the show refers to the arm of the sundial that casts a shadow, thereby making it possible to tell the time. It also refers to a novel by Nick Harkaway, set in a future of distributed surveillance democracy, which ultimately goes awry. The reference fittingly propels O’Flynn’s work past pop and settles it in the company of cultural near-future imagineers. From the Greek gnomon, translating as “one that knows or examines” – Gnomon sums up O’Flynn’s perceptive anxiety about our collective fast-pace toward an apocalypse and hints at an existence beyond it.
* Gnomon opens on Cape Town’s popular First Thursday’s on May 3.
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