Daniele Buetti, ‘Looking for Love - Goodfellows (DKNY)’, 1996, Amstel Gallery

The work of the Swiss artist captures the zeitgeist of today’s society. His light boxes, videos, sculptures and drawings focus on the theme of consumerism and concepts of pretence and constructed reality. Daniele Buetti began by marking the names of multinational groups such as Nike, Coca-Cola, Sony or Ralph Lauren as “ballpoint pen tattoos” directly onto the flesh of passers-by in New York, who were very inter­ested in his "tattoos for a dollar" Shortly afterwars, he turned his attention to adding "false scars" to the skin of models, by editing photos taken from the newspapers and adding hand-drawn logos. By so brutally combining and contrasting the beauty of the models with the horror of the scarring and skin afflictions he focuses our full attention on their exposure and their vulnerability.After this the artist uses the models as a projection surface for the private desires of the viewer. A role, which is already given to them by the fashion and beauty industry. Buetti pierces the image and mounts it on a light box, thus illuminating the punctured slogans and outlines. The images promising happiness and success stand in stark contrast to the scars of company logos that the models bare on their skin. The slogans also counteract the superficial nature of the images’ original con­text, by posing existential questions that call into remembrance real human desires.

Daniele Buetti started the photographic series Looking for Love in 1995, addressing consumer society’s belief in labels and logos from the point of view of an expanding cult of fashion and beauty. Based on reproductions of famous models from fashion magazines, the artist draws on to the backs of which arabesque like deformities, ornaments, and brand names. “The closing years of the twentieth century are a period in which the body is of a central importance. Exalted exorbitant prestige, beauty and sports are cultivated with almost religious devotion. Metaphors of the body are taking over our vocabulary. […] These skin drawings throw an everyday relationship into sharp relief: products, and the brand emblems get under our skin and make themselves at home in our subconscious, into which they are insinuated by the suggestive technique of advertising.”

Signature: verso

Daniele Buetti - Biography
Daniele Buetti’s work is the mere continuation of the present with different, more extreme means. The artist, born in 1956 in Fribourg in the French part of Switzerland, has been concerning himself with the consumer and information society for decades. He works with simple and conventional material such as cardboard, ball-pens, wallpaper, wall paint and party lighting; creating installations, performances, drawings, videos, light boxes and sculptures. His resources are newspapers, magazines and advertisements but he also refers to television series, films and other media content. His choice of language is also seemingly basic; Buetti often employs the visual and linguistic terminology of advertisement, PR and marketing, making his message highly accessible.

"As an artist, I would never claim to have answers."

In his earlier work Buetti explored the meaning and influence of symbols and signs. He created a sign himself, the winged cross, which he introduced in various contexts and which he consciously allowed to be copied and misused.The artist, who lives in Zürich, came to prominence with his collection of works “Looking for Love” (1996-2001). The pieces show models and film stars with brand names tattooed on their skin; Buetti drew on the back of glossy magazines with a ball-pen to get the effect. With this he put the concept of the brand, its psycho-cultural causes and effects and consumption up for discussion. „As an artist, I would never claim to have answers. I consider it my job to ask questions and to keep certain, recurring questions alive“he told the arts magazine Art in 2008.

Buetti is coping with this task in constantly changing variations. He is questioning the gap between appearance and reality, analyzes contradictions, reveals what lies underneath the glossy surface and extradites the observer, first to the truth, then to himself.

Daniele Buetti - collections
The work of Daniele Buetti can be found, amongst others, in the collections of the Kunsthaus Zürich, the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, the Maison Europeenne de la Photographie in Paris, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid and the ZKM, centre for art and media technology in Karlsruhe.

Private collection - Amstel Gallery

About Daniele Buetti