Art that makes you think

Patience Bambalele

Patience Bambalele

Installation artist Happy Dhlame's solo exhibition, Partial Observation, is on at the Artspace in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

Judging by this exhibition, the artist is a serious thinker. There are large, abstract works of mixed media on canvas, and his work reveals layer upon layer of texture and material, which at once "talks" to us about the things we add as much as the things we take away.

Dhlame reveals that "through my work, I am able to comment on issues that directly affect local and global societies and their sociopolitical values of the past and present, and time and space".

Using the metaphor of old buildings and constructed spaces, Dhlame's work is about how people navigate interior and exterior spaces, and the public and private realms that we all occupy.

Painted walls also show a profound link between the past and the present. Paint layers and peel-off's, at once both covering and revealing things in the past, are a powerful metaphor for the construction of memory.

Dhlame explains that his work reveals that people are captured by aesthetics. That beauty is the most important entity that people attach to their lifestyles.

"We paint walls, put up wallpaper, tiles and lay carpets. The bottom line then, even though we apply all these layers, is that reality will always appear at a later stage.

"My paintings capture the after-effect, in a measured time, in a specific building. It compels the viewer to look afresh at the surroundings and to ask what do these structures signify?"