Any discussion of contemporary art in Buenos Aires would be incomplete without the mention of local legend Daniela Luna and her gallery, Appetite.
Started in 2005 with the focus of uniting a more freewheeling underground art world with the commercially successful approach of “professional” galleries, Appetite offers space for both established international artists and aspiring up-and-comers. Whether the talent is big-name or no-name, Luna plays a key role in working with artists to develop their style. While Appetite has gone from a small space in San Telmo to some of the world’s biggest art fairs, including Frieze Art Fair in London, Daniela Luna has branched out from Buenos Aires. She recently opened an Appetite in Brooklyn and has been busy showing artists’ works in Lithuania, Miami, and Milan, with plans to expand to China. We caught up with her fresh off of the opening of Appetite’s latest group show to find out more about the gallery’s beginnings and her truly fierce work ethic.
Whitney Weiss: Tell me a little about your recent show.
Daniela Luna: The idea was to discover new artists. We’re going to select eight or ten artists from this, so they can display more of their work. So I’m trying to choose which ones I like, seeing what else they do, and trying to find out more about them. The most known artist [in this show] is Yamandu Rodriguez. I’ve been working with him for almost five years now. He also has a band. You can see some who aren’t even on the level of being in a gallery, or not in this gallery at least, but it’s good to have them to add another dimension to everything.
WW: Do you start out with a lot of open calls?
DL: I do it at least once a year because it’s like fresh air instead of working with all the people you already know. A big part of my work has been discovering new artists and giving them a chance to develop and guiding them. Also, making them grow a lot, their careers, and also them as professionals. Many of the artists that I started working with were very unknown, and now they are very, very popular.
WW: What made you decide to open a gallery?
DL: I really like working, and I always knew that I wanted to do something of my own, like having my own company. I wanted to work, taking responsibility for everything. I’m very bad working for somebody else! Being a handler or an assistant, I’m a disaster. Because I really need to see the whole picture, to make decisions. Yes, I have to be on this side, otherwise people hate me because I always take charge. I always end up being some kind of boss of something because I’m the boss, that’s my nature.
WW: What was the art scene in the city like when you started out?
DL: Most of the galleries [in Buenos Aires] were established, it was that kind of style. And then there was the “if you don’t like this, you can go to the opposite,” where it’s no money and all this style. That’s where I met a lot of great people. There’s a lot of parties all the time, but they didn’t see the market, they didn’t even want to get into the market. I thought, of course, that the money can develop the gallery. Then the artists can get more developed, too.
WW: You saw a lot of people in the underground for whom success was not having success?
DL: Yes, they were getting known in another way. They had a lot of really good artists, because in most cases that is what will happen. You give them freedom, and you have good artists. But the thing is, they were very much into themselves. It was a small community, so I wanted to open it to everyone and for it to grow!Most people who know me here, anything I say, they have to believe me. Because I prove that everything I want to do, I do. I wanted to unite two things when I decided about art. I realized there was something missing here between.
WW: And you like to work.
DL: Yes, I REALLY like to work. When it gets easy is when I get bored. [Appetite] was already exploding, and then I made it grow in many more areas. I started making collectors trust me and the artists. And then I moved to this space and for some time, I had both spaces. Then in the other place, I made another idea that was called Tanto Deseo, or so much desire. I started working in New York almost at the same time. But anyway, we did a lot of really great things in Tanto Deseo. It was more connected to sex.
WW: I think that people really like to look at sex. It works every time.
DL: Exactly! There’s many approaches of course with sex, but sometimes you find something that is really beautiful and it’s hidden in some place. Anyway, here it’s much more free in that way.
WW: You think so?
DL: I know so.
For more on Daniela Luna and Appetite showings worldwide: http://www.appetiteprojects.com/
(Images above: Daniela Luna; Yamandu Rodriguez, photo; Appetite Party in Buenos Aires; Appetite Gallery. All images courtesy of Daniela Luna)