Daniel Jonathan Popper (1983-), a South African artist, has carved a niche for himself with his extraordinary, larger-than-life sculptures and public art installations. His journey began in Cape Town, South Africa, where he specialized in interactive art, public art, stage design, installation art, and interior design. Popper’s art has been showcased at top festivals like the Electric Forest festival in the USA, Boom Festival in Portugal, and Afrikaburn in South Africa.
Popper’s first major exhibition in the United States, “Human+Nature,” at The Morton Arboretum in Illinois, featured five large-scale sculptures, each ranging from 15 to 26 feet tall. These sculptures, made from materials like glass-reinforced concrete, wood, fiberglass, and steel, were designed to inspire awe and establish a connection between people and trees. For example, “UMI” is a maternal figure representing motherhood, while “Heartwood” depicts a woman’s face split into two, symbolizing the interconnectedness of humans and trees.
Popper’s style is characterized by colossal figurative sculptures, as seen in his works at music festivals worldwide. For instance, he created a 12-meter-tall forest god for the Boom Festival in Portugal and a whimsical 26-foot-tall female figure for the Modem Festival in Croatia. His sculptures often incorporate projection mapping, changing color and material in response to their environment.
In the Mojave Desert, his sculpture “Transmission” stands as a testament to his artistic themes. This 32-foot-tall mosaic installation, consisting of a woman’s face and hand, is both surreal and serene, inviting visitors to reflect on their spiritual place in the universe and their relationship with the earth.
Popper’s career, initially as a stage and production designer for music festivals, equipped him with the skills for large-scale design and interaction. This background laid the foundation for his large-scale sculptures, such as “Earth Sentinels” in Bali. These 14-meter-tall sculptures, representing guardians of the planet, were made from concrete, steel, and fiberglass, emphasizing the grandeur of nature and the responsibility of humanity towards Earth.
Esoteric and metaphysical themes heavily influence Popper’s work. His art aims to evoke a sense of connection with humanoid ancestors and deities, reminding viewers of the greater forces beyond humankind and their inherent power. Through his creations, Popper seeks to create spaces for engagement, connection, and shared experiences, fostering internal reflection and interpersonal interaction.
Popper’s art has had a profound impact on viewers, inspiring profound spiritual connections and significant life events. The feedback from people who have experienced deep connections with his work motivates him to continue creating these immersive, thought-provoking installations.
Daniel Popper is an artist whose multidisciplinary approach combines large-scale sculptures, public installations, and interactive elements to explore and express themes of nature, spirituality, and human interconnectedness. His works, found globally, invite reflection and engagement, leaving a lasting impression on their audiences.