Giant PHOENIX flanking the Market Stage, handcrafted and sculpted by South African Artist Daniel Popper.
Born in 1983 in Johannesburg, South Africa, Daniel Popper is a man with a knack for creating artworks that bring fantasy to life. Having earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts (with distinction in Oil Painting) at the renowned Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town in 2006, his career has developed onto a global stage with many mediums of art such as puppetry,performance,instillation and sculpture.
The spark that ignited Daniel’s career was the creation of his first giant puppet for the AfrikaBurn art festival in 2007. The attention generated by this saw Daniel commissioned by mobile operator MTN to produce 14 more for Fan Fests around South Africa during the FIFA World Cup 2010. At the same time, Daniel’s solo exhibition of oil paintings was held at the Obert Contemporary gallery in Johannesburg. Since 2010, the popularity of Daniel’s puppets have seen him interviewed on South African television for shows such as Woza M-net, Supersport and Top Billing, and saw him take the puppets to the Portuguese electronic music festival, Boom, and build a new giant puppet for the Young Illustrators Awards in Berlin.
Expanding his work on puppets, 2011 saw Daniels’ gorilla puppet featured at many Cape Town events (such as Earthdance, the J&B Met, an MTV Base concert and the Adderley Street parade). In the same year Daniel participated in a group painting show at Salon 91, with his oil paintings curated by Andrew Lamprecht in an exhibition titled ‘Figuring Difference’. On his return to AfrikaBurn in 2011, Daniel’s large-scale sculpture ‘Hand Of God’, which featured an Argon laser that beamed across the festival site, was a highlight for many festivalgoers. This
sculpture was instrumental in Daniel being commissioned by Siemens and Ogilvy to create a 15-metre Baobab tree featured 3,000 LED lights and was powered by solar panels and bicycles, for the COP17 climate change conference in Durban, South Africa. In 2011, Daniel attended the Burning Man festival in Nevada for the first time.
With interest in his projects growing, 2012 saw Daniel commissioned to build two 25m Quetzalcoatl serpents for the Boom Festival, which were suspended above the crowd in the main dance temple. Subsequent to this, he embarked on a world puppet tour, which saw him performing his puppets at three festivals in The Netherlands (De Deining, Zwarte Cross and A Day In The Park), as well as at Boom in Portugal and at Burning Man in the USA.
Daniels interest in interactive art, puppetry ,art and architecture in public spaces, stage design and installation art, continues to expand, all the while still engaging with the fine art world and oil painting.
Daniel Popper currently lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa, where he regularly partakes in the South African culinary pastime of braaing.