I recently spoke of how nearly everyone you run into around a fire at a house party in Jozi could hold court with the best academics the West has produced, but Happy Dhlame is a rare breed. Instead of trying to do justice to his mindset and describe his workflow it is better to just let him speak for himself. The following excerpt was taken from BAOBAB 03 (South African Journal of New Writing) 2009, but nearly all of what he says simply screams out of him when having a conversation. Check back in a few weeks for a mini-doc on Happy and his engaging work.
"My work formulates new dreams about our surroundings. It tries to unmask existing codes within in mainstream art. I comment on issues that directly affect the local and the global society, be it socio-political values of the past and/or present. It revolves around abandoned buildings to archive our fading memories and the temporal existence of our built environment".
"I have always been fascinated with intervening in space, and reforming the language and interiors of public spaces. These include degeneration and decomposing walls, floors and ceilings. I like to reveal layers of paint that once used to be solid but with time, are now dissipating. I am fascinated with the aesthetic values we attach to our surroundings when we paint walls, apply wall paper, use tiles and carpeting. The question is what lies beneath?"
"My painting seeks to capture the after effects of time in specific built environments. It compels the viewer to look afresh at our surroundings and to ask what do these structures signify? What convictions, hopes and fears lie beneath our built environments? I am commenting on how much time can render beauty meaningless". - Happy Dhlame