As we continue to stay home to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic, artists and galleries are finding new ways to connect with the art community.
For example, WORLDART and The Melrose Gallery are currently hosting online art exhibitions. Two of the artists involved have strong ties with Nando's.
This online-only exhibition at WORLDART features limited edition prints of past original paintings by Norman O'Flynn from his series, Timekeepers (2016 to 2019). Norman is no stranger to Nando's. In fact, he was one of the artists who helped Nando's UK transform the Nando's Soho restaurant into a pop-up gallery as part of the ‘Feast Your Eyes’ art exhibition in 2017.
This show will feature a selection of Norman's Timekeeper portraits – all available as limited edition prints.
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."
Norman 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.
Ronald Muchatuta is a Zimbabwean-born artist who now lives in Cape Town. His artworks explore one of Zimbabwe's largest social issues – life in the Diaspora. There are 196 of Ronald's original artworks in the global Nando’s collection and 16 in the Nando’s South Africa collection. It's safe to say we appreciate his work!
The Melrose Gallery is currently hosting Ronald Muchatuta’s solo exhibition ‘Kurarama – To Survive’. Following on from Ronald’s well received exhibition at the Stellenbosch Triennale and it’s premature closure due to Covid-19, Ronald created this new body of works during the shutdown in South Africa.
The impact of the pandemic on the global community and the way in which it forced mankind to slow down, to take a breath and to consider what is most important in our lives has had a marked effecton Ronald’s life and this body of work in particular.
“‘Kurarama’ means ‘to survive’ and it is through survival that we find beauty in life and death. The Ying-yang philosophy reflects on how the end of life in one dimension can be seen as a fresh start in another. The circle of life. The burning of the veldt before new vegetation sprouts – the land needs to breathe; we need to breathe. This body of work crosses points of our existence. The mark of existence comes in the forms of legacy, spirituality, youth, beauty, and cultural conditioning."
The exhibition consists of 21 new works that explore the range of techniques for which Ronald is swiftly developing a strong reputation and loyal following. Ronald uses collage, painting, illustration and marking to create works imbued and layered with texture and meaning.
His practice examines the effect of leaving one’s homeland physically, spiritually and psychologically. Migration, refugees, poverty and different forms of injustice are often portrayed in his artworks as Ronald uses his platform as a means of change and discourse in our contemporary context.
For Ronald, art is a means of communication and connection: an inherently social and political dialogue that is engaged by the creator and the viewer. Art gives important context to our individual and collective lives. His work is fraught and harrowing – like a people’s collective nervous breakdown translated onto a canvas. Ronald works across different mediums including illustration, painting, collage and mosaics, often combining different mediums and techniques that make his works relatable, tactile and evocative. His works are almost melancholy in mood, clearly portraying his longing for his homeland through the delicate, exquisite nature of his illustration and application of materials. Ronald's artworks grace numerous private, public and corporate collections, including The Spier collection, Hollard, Board members of the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Nando's – fine art collection, US Senate offices and others based in Africa and abroad. He has participated in numerous exhibitions in Africa and internationally, including the Stellenbosch Triennale, and is often invited to participate in dialogues around issues of pertinence to art and Africa.
The exhibition will run from 16 July to 16 August 2020 and will be presented in The Melrose Gallery in Melrose Arch and online on a viewing room on www.themelrosegallery.com.