In #Trending’s celebrated design column this week, Phumlani S Langa profiles a deft purveyor of street art. We chat about the life of such an artist in Cape Town and, without giving away too much, what secrets lie behind his craft.
Graffiti writers and street artists go about the business of making our cities look more cheerful by imprinting their passion on walls, trains, roller doors and trucks. Cape Town has clamped down on this art form, but the powers that be are yet to completely quash its existence.
And, with the likes of artists such as Bushy around, maybe they never will.
Hailing from the Mother City, he tells #Trending that he started painting aged 14.
“I was influenced by people around me in Mitchells Plain and Westridge. There was always a lot of graffiti around me.”
He’s been fascinated with the paint can for 14 years and, although he loves working on walls, he is also proficient in the digital aspect of art.
Bushy says he gets inspiration for his craft from his friends and everyday experiences: “A lot of my work is actually jokes, satire and fun stuff.”
He says that the City of Cape Town’s graffiti bylaws have affected where he can paint.
According to the law, “graffiti affects the quality of life of all residents and visitors, and constitutes a public nuisance which damages the image of the city known worldwide for its beauty, and makes it a less desirable place to visit, live and work in”. Right.
The chilled artist says: “The law deters us from painting where we want to. We must get permits from government, which can be demotivating because of the process you have to go through. I’ve had permits denied and so now we just ask [for] the owner’s permission or paint in an abandoned spot,” Bushy says.
He’s also been fined for trying to paint a mural, which I could tell from his voice was a sore point.
Bushy was involved in an Africa Day celebration at the Sneaker Lab in Braamfontein this year, where he unveiled an installation in honour of the occasion. He loves the sprit of street culture in Johannesburg: “In Cape Town, it’s weird. In Joburg, there’s more of an authentic direction that people are going towards. Not everyone has this trendy thing going; they have their own flavour. Down here, it’s these hype beast kids.”
Bushy feels that the onus is on artists to host events and build platforms to unearth new talent. He has worked with academics and artists in areas of Cape Town that are plagued by gang culture.
“We’re calling it Raak Wys. We want to show kids who don’t see anything besides gangsters and drugs that there is something more than just the area you live in,” he says.
So if you are a champion of the can, you are more than welcome to take in his work in the gallery of the streets 24 hours a day, or in Cape Town – at least until the officials buff the work.