GAO Gallery presents the second solo show by British artist Daniel Burley (born 1992, London). The exhibition features a series of three sculptures made over the last year that use the folkloric character of the goblin as a motif. Daniel’s practice up to this point has engaged in exploring his biography and family history through a colourful and sometimes sinister language, taking in a diverse range of influences from early 2000s aesthetic sensibilities to esoteric hobbyist pursuits like Warhammer. The Intricate Life Habits and Rituals of the Goblin (2021) sees Daniel begin to refine an approach to novelty world building as a medium and use goblins as a conceptual and aesthetic framework to explore and carry a series of formal and narrative concerns and unlikely networks of association.
Daniel’s depictions of goblins are more sympathetic than their traditional representations as evil or malicious characters in European folklore. In a series of dramatic tableaux they engage in activities which might be
associated with children. One peers over a log playfully, kicking his feet in the air in infantile fascination, another kneels daintily to collect flowers in a wicker basket. They are shown as societal outsiders of sorts, scavengers with clothes that are pieced together from scraps and adorned with patches that are in some instances reminiscent of band memorabilia. There’s something of the old metalhead to them, still wearing their favourite Metallica or Iron Maiden t-shirt years past the tour. Daniel has said to me that the exaggerated stitching along the seams of the goblin’s clothing could be considered analogous to other instances of boundaries being crossed, broken or adjoined like the movement of a spider across a piece of clothing and onto the skin, the breaking of a stem when picking a flower, or the way subcultural groupings influence each other. Perhaps the goblins could be seen as symbols of the fetishistic impulse that fuels all subculture. Evocations of some spirit of the super fan who stitches together a hybrid identity from the detritus of this or that cultural phenomenon that they worship, adjoining boundaries of genre and style along the way.
1 Worshipping Gods of Chaos, 2021. Steel armature, polystyrene, jesmonite, epoxy modeling clay, oil paint, nail polish
2 Picking Night Flowers, 2020. Steel armature, polystyrene, jesmonite, epoxy modeling clay, oil paint, nail polish
3 Chasing Ghouls in Shadows, 2021. Steel armature, polystyrene, jesmonite, epoxy modeling clay, oil paint.
4. Untitled, 2020. Plywood, paint.
5 Untitled, 2020. Plywood, paint.
6. Untitled, 2020. Plywood, paint.