Guy Buffet was born in Paris on January 13, 1943. Although his parents were in the restaurant business, they were fond of art, and Guy learned early that his neighborhood had once been the home of such artistic figures as Chagall, Matisse, Picasso, and Modigliani. “At home there was always talk about these famous painters,” he says, “and I used to listen to these conversations while doing my homework at the kitchen table. I remember drawing on napkins and the linen tablecloths while my brothers were busy with kitchen preparations.”
On his twelfth birthday, his mother gave him his first box of paints, a couple of brushes, a wooden easel, and several canvases. The young Buffet was soon
displaying paintings on the walls of the family restaurant. He sold his first watercolor painting to an American who was visiting the family restaurant that next year.
At age 14 he was transferred from public school to the famed Beaux Arts de Toulon and later studied advanced painting in Paris. By age 18, he joined the French Navy where his artistic abilities were so distinguished, he was named the official artist of the French Navy and given the prestigious assignment to “paint the world.”
“In the South Pacific, while I was on shore leave and hitchhiking with some fellow sailors,” Buffet says, “we were picked up by a motorist who was 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. Afterwards, the French Navy helped organize his first exhibition in the Hawaiian Islands introducing Buffet to what he called “Paradise.” The year was 1963 and the rest, as they say, is history.
Guy soon settled in this “Hawaiian Paradise” after the prominent Cooke family offered to provide him living and studio space following his Navy discharge. He was awarded several
commissions from the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts which emblazoned major murals at libraries across the state of Hawaii.
Of his paintings, Buffet says, “I invite the viewer
to share my experience. I take you into my world
like a guest into my home. I want you to be comfortable, relaxed, happy; to forget about
problems and sorrows. If you like it and want
to come back, my world is yours.”
One can feel the international influence of his
Hawaiian creations, reminiscent of the French
master Gaugin who depicted Polynesia from Tahiti generations earlier. Enthralled with the history and culture of the islands, Buffet continues to create famous images depicting the folklore of the Hawaiian people, animals, and events. Buffet’s whimsical Hawaiian world is where cows wear flower leis and bellow, “Amoo-ha!” and road signs read, “Baby Pig Crossing” to allow mama piglet and her babies to cross a country road. His vibrant color palette helps evoke a playfulness that brings out the child in every aficionado.
While some of his other works are positively Polynesian, a great deal of it is decidedly derived from his French heritage. Depicting French sommeliers, chefs, and waiters mid-shift, Guy consistently captures the spirit and passion of the French people and their love of fine cuisine.
Guy’s images are now commissioned for a wealth of items from men’s dress ties and shirts, to dinner plates, coffee cups, postcards, calendars, and women’s wear. Buffet is also
the official artist for Champagne Perrier-Jouet, with his work gracing each decorative gift box.
Guy Buffet original oils and limited-edition graphics have been represented by Lahaina Galleries for more than 25 years.