Cape Town’s most prominent artist, Buffy Brave Art, is sizing me up from the opposite end of the table. I say most prominent because it is very likely that on a daily basis Buffy’s work is seen by more people than any of the resident artists in the National Gallery. By SD 3000

He is responsible for the faces on the walls at Marvel, Mama Africa, the ever-changing artwork at Rafiki’s and even Caprice (which has now been painted over). “I live for the moment, that’s why it doesn’t bother me if one of the pieces gets painted over – I prefer it that way”, he says. Buffy lived on the streets for years, a result of dodging the army. He was addicted to heroin for 8 years, was a prostitute and scavenged for food and bits of paper to draw on. Down and out in Jo’burg, Durban, PE, Knysna and Cape Town his story sounds like the London pavement scribers in a George Orwell novel. When he finally handed himself in after years on the run, the police didn’t have a clue who he was.

“It was a girlfriend who got me off the streets. She used to pay me R50 to fuck her but then she got arrested for hijacking a SAB truck and killing the driver in Khayelitsha.” Mama Africa helped him get off the junk in what he refers to as a schizophrenic time of his life.

It’s clear he loves women, I mean he really loves women – and they seem to have a soft spot for him too. While we’re doing the interview one of the waitresses hovers around – “I was with her this weekend” he nods, “my bed is on this platform and it broke so she came crashing through it” he laughs. “Women are number one, I always paint people I know, mainly women, some guys like tits, ass, boobs – I look at the pussy. I used to work on this mural outside Pickwicks and there was this beautiful German girl working there, I wanted to paint her so I used to run down, look at her and then run up again to finish the picture” After a mural is done he would lead the girl to it and show her the painting, which according to him would always impress them. “Is that the only reason you do it?” I ask. “No, but it’s a great way in” he replies with a smile.

Buffy sees his work as graff, even though he paints with a brush. He says he hates that graffiti artists have this elitist view that you have to use a spraycan. “No matter how you do it, just get it on the wall is my view”, he says. He’s a self-proclaimed undercover masochist. He has the Celtic horn god Cernunnos tattooed on his stomach. I ask him about these tribal influences, which feel present in all his paintings. “It’s all Celtic, it’s my roots” he replies, “my real name means patriarch, male domination”. Where does Buffy come from? I wanted to know. “That’s also a name that’s been with me from birth, my mother used to listen to this singer called Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Native American who used to sing Welsh ballads. If I was born a girl, my name would have been Buffy”.

I ask him whether he likes the Native American Spur murals. He looks at me incredulously but then replies with a smile: “I would find an engineer and ask him whether or not he is a vegetarian. If he says no I’ll ask him to build a cannon that can fit an elephant. I would load the elephant in the cannon and shoot it at the Spur mural”. “Isn’t that a bit violent?” I wanted to know. ‘Violence’ being another theme that comes to the fore in some of his paintings.

There is room for violence in society but people are afraid of it. When you live in the moment like me, it comes with violence, you can’t think of the outcome or how it will affect people because then you’re not truly living the moment. I love life but I don’t believe in karma, it ruins your day.

Read the rest of issue 05

Click here to view our #flashBack selection for September.

Click here to view all our #Flashbacks.