“It appears easy and almost uninteresting on one sheet, but as soon as multiple layers come into play, it is a whole new story. All the layers of spikes or rings suddenly become provocative and the end result appears intricate and vigorous.”
Daniel is a quiet person who enjoys the company of himself. Since a young age, he has been drawn to art to express his inner self. Daniel works with different mediums but predominantly paper at the moment. He creates captivating paper art that never fails to mesmerise the viewers.
Daniel gets inspiration from everything surrounding him, including nature, love, technology and space. In particular, he is fascinated by space and the cosmos, and seeks to represent them in his artworks. Generally, he is interested in the unseen and unexplained complications in the universe and hopes to explain his understanding of these complicated constructions through his artworks. Daniel often expresses these obvious and recognisable things with a twist.
Daniel’s preference for paper as his art medium arises from its dimensional versatility - a material that can transform from 2D to 3D instantaneously just by folding. He believes that using such material can send the brain into an unknown pattern of thinking that stimulates thinking positively and inspires creativity.
Q. How did you start your artistic journey? And how did you arrive at paper art?
I have always been interested in art from an early age. My mother was a big influence as she always encouraged me to draw and paint. It was about ten years ago when I made the conscious decision to take art seriously and start doing art full time.
My fascination with paper started about seven years ago and was not intentional. I was creating an artwork representing a carbon footprint, and the artwork had to be like a footprint in the sand. I tried many ways to represent it, but nothing worked. It was then that I decided to cut a footprint out of paper, and my thought was to lift the single layer of paper to try and give it depth. Well, one thing led to another. I ended up with several layers of paper gradually reducing in size.
This was the start of paper as my preferred medium.
Q. Were you formally trained as an artist?
I am self-taught, and everything I know today came from trial and error.
Q. You mentioned that you are a quiet person. How do you think your personality influences the art you produce?
I see myself as reclusive, and this is perfectly fine with me as I consider myself seeing the world differently from others. I have a wandering mind that is continuously creating in my head.
I think my work is the direct opposite of me and can only be explained as extroverted. It always demands attention with the bright colours and carved effect. To be honest, I love the silence as it is my muse. I work the best when silence is screaming.
Q. Could you elaborate on your fascination with the paper medium? And how is it different from other mediums?
I love the shadows that stacked paper produces as it gives a 3-dimensional look - therefore, what is seen isn’t the same twice. Also, cutting paper and concentrating on the cuts is extremely calming for me.
Paper is ubiquitous in our daily lives and can’t be ignored. However, paper is more than a daily object for me. I see paper differently as it can be sculpted into so many forms and shapes. This is what has captivated me for many years.
Q. It seems like shape and texture are very important for your artwork. Could you describe how you see them in an artwork?
I am obsessed with nature and the cosmos, therefore many of the shapes in my work were inspired by plants and planets. I live in Karoo region in South Africa, a place considered a semi-desert. Succulent plants are everywhere; almost all produce flowers in many colours and shapes. It is mesmerising to look at and almost otherworldly. These plants are the inspiration for the patterns and shapes in my work.
Q. The patterns in your paper artwork look very intricate. Could you describe your techniques in creating them and the artistic process of creating each artwork?
The patterns in my work are very simple shapes on a single sheet of paper. It appears easy and almost uninteresting on one sheet, but as soon as multiple layers come into play, it is a whole new story. All the layers of spikes or rings suddenly become provocative and the end result appears intricate and vigorous.
I use many homemade tools and stencils to get certain shapes and patterns in the creation process. But my best friend is technology, as I use some programs and applications to help define the size and space my work.
After cutting all the layers, the big process starts - assembling each layer with foam board, ensuring each layer has the correct amount of support to hover over each other and create the 3-dimensional effect.
Each artwork is contained in a frame that was also designed and hand-made by me to complement and protect the work.
Q. You have a lot of artworks that are related to the theme of nature or the cosmos. Could you describe the message that you are trying to convey in these works?
My fascination with nature and the cosmos started ever since I can remember. I live on a farm and see interesting plant shapes every day. These inspire me to create in an attempt to capture the beauty of nature.
On the other hand, space is unknown and mysterious, yet we can observe some planets and even far into the galaxies. In my mind, I often think about it and try to capture how these galaxies will appear and function.
Q. You mentioned that your inspiration comes from life and things around you. Is there anything that interests you the most at the moment?
Due to the dryness of the area I live in, when it rains, the water droplets hitting the sand produce certain shapes. I enjoy watching these and attempting to create similar shapes in my paper sculpture.
When it rains a little more, I see the same water droplets falling into a puddle of water, creating ripples that bounce back and forth, the circles in my latest work represents the ripples as they collide with each other while gradually reducing in size.
Q. Are you also inspired by any other artistic or creative disciplines?
I do love painting, but I only indulge on occasions. I see it as a brain-cleansing procedure.
I also like to experiment with mediums and combine things to see how they will react to one another. This process sometimes produces interesting results that I document and revisit later on.
Q. You also mentioned that you are trying to paint outside paper art. Could you explain your artistic approach to painting? Is it similar or different from your approach to paper?
Painting is my second favourite activity. I like to paint abstractly, but I have also tried landscapes, clouds and birds. I would say that it is both similar and different to my approach to paper art. Nevertheless, nature is always at the forefront of everything I approach, as it is just too beautiful to ignore.
Q. Do you have a proudest piece of art to share?
My proudest piece I created is the prototype of the footprint I did many years ago, and I have it hanging in my home to look at every day. It is a reminder of a significant change in my art career.
Q. Could you describe your work in three words?
Energy, magnetic, attention