About Guy Buffet
Introduction by Guy Buffet
I was born in Paris in the district of Montparnasse on January 13, 1943. My Father, Jules Cesar Buffet, was 65 years old at the time and still the Postmaster of that district far beyond his retirement due to post war circumstances. My father knew and loved Montparnasse. During my early youth, my father loved to take "his son" for walks in the district and show me the famous landmarks such as, "La Coupole" , one of my favorite eateries even today, where famous artists such as Modigliani, Picasso, Chagall, Braque and Foujita would spend most of their days and evenings. As a Postmaster, he also knew where those artists lived and would show me their houses and studios and tell endless stories about their works and their lives.
Those artists becames the heroes of my youth and the models of my future life. I really started to be interested in painting when I was 12 years old. One summer I was invited to spend some time in the country with an artist friend of my family and I fell in love with the smells and the feelings of an artist's studio. During this visit, I asked if I could spend the day in the studio and paint my own canvas. By the end of the day, I had completed a large 2x3 foot painting I called "Sunset on Fishing Harbor in Brittany". The painting surprised every one for it's composition and wonderful colors and brush strokes, and it was so well received that the artist friend wouldn't let me use his studio ever again! That did it; I decided that I will become an artist on my own.
When I was 14, I moved to the south of France with my mother, to a beautiful little fishing harbor called "Sanary", not far from St. Tropez. I quit school to enlist in the Beaux Arts School of Toulon in order to study art full time. I loved that school under the bright sun of Provence and have returned to the coast many times since. Most teachers were professional artists of the School of Provence, with pallettes of bright colors and canvasses that were pure joy and love of life, or as we say in French; joie de vivre! This was immediately contagious and would leave a mark on my life to this day.
I lost my father 2 years prior at the age of 12, and my mother, although supporting of my artistic studies, told me that it might be very hard to sustain a life in the south of France with the small income we had to live on. I replied, "I will support us by working in restaurants on the weekends and school holidays" and that's what I did for 3 years, discovering the world of restaurants, chefs and waiters, that would become my trademarks in the years to come. This was a good investment of my time and I will always be grateful for the restaurant years, for they allowed me to pursue my artistic studies and achieve my goals.
The people I worked with or those I waited on were a great source of inspiration and for learning about human nature and behavior. Although humoristic at times, my portrayals of chefs and waiters were never denied of candor and tenderness. I have spent 50 years painting and studying my surroundings and the world. Gratefully I can go into many restaurants worldwide and once the staff realizes I am there, they'll come to meet me and some will offer to pose on the spot! I never leave without making sure I sign some prints or make some drawings for them as I am so delighted by them all, and their food's not bad either.
While I was still at the Beaux Arts School in Toulon, my mother needed to return to Paris for health reasons. I was invited to live with a delighful elderly woman who happened to be the mother of the Chief of Staff of the French Navy. This event changed my life forever, for the Admiral was also a passionate Sunday artist and it wasn't long before a strange bond united us. The art student giving advice and tips on painting and the Admiral giving precious advice to a young boy in need of a father. The Admiral suggested that it might be a good idea for me to join the Navy as it would make my life secure for some years and I could always get back to my art later.
So, I joined the Navy in 1961 at the age of 18. Three weeks later, the Admiral put me on the cruiser "De Grasse" to go around the world for 7 months. I didn't know I was going to discover such islands of my dreams; French Polynesia!
On a cold and foggy morning, as I was climbing the long and narrow gang plank of this huge battleship, I realized that I was at the beginning of the most beautiful adventure of my life, for I was not only going to discover the world, but also the meaning of my life as an artist and as a man. The Navy recognized my painting talent by giving me the prestigious assignment to "paint the world".
In the South Pacific, while I was on shore leave hitchhiking with some fellow sailors, we were picked up by a motorist who happened to be the Mayor of the city. After visiting the ship and seeing some of my paintings, the Mayor talked to the Captain and got permission for me to put on an exhibit in town. From this came a series of one-man exhibitions in exotic Tahiti and New Caledonia. Additionally, the French Navy helped organize my first exhibition in the Hawaiian Islands, introducing me to a place I would call home for many years.
At the end of my service with the Navy, at age 20, I settled in Hawaii after the prominent Cooke family offered to provide me with living and studio space on Molokai. What followed were several commissions from the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, which funded major murals at public places across the state of Hawaii.
I lived in San Francisco during the 60's for about 10 years and my experiences there kept me going back time after time! I raised my 2 children on the lush island of Maui and always keep one foot within the borders of France...Those who know me well have dubbed me "The Wandering Artist" and that suits me very well!
I have been fortunate enough to travel the world over painting not only French and Polynesian themes, but a vast scope of subjects that have not have always been mainstream to my gallery collections. I have many interests and I read and research continuously to learn and stay fresh with ideas. The Italian countryside, Amsterdam, China, Tahiti, India and other exotic locations have found their way onto my canvasses, and I have a deep love of dogs, so you will see lots of those, too.
Over the years I have been commissioned by numerous corporations, including Aloha Airlines, Grand Marnier, Inter-Continental Beachcomber-Tahiti and Westin Hotels, Champagne Perrier-Jouet, Williams-Sonoma and Paul Gauguin and Crystal Cruise Lines. I have had many products made from my designs, and for all of this I am humbled. What a wonderful life this is and I appreciate my collectors, representatives, galleries, licensees, supportive family and friends.
I currently live and work in the San Francisco Bay area of California, always with a suitcase ready to travel to the next show, fundraiser, gallery opening, or destination of inspiration. I meet many wonderful people along the way and I hope to make your acquaintance and welcome you into my world!
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org