The world didn’t know it was ready for a full-blown invasion until it was too late. It all started in the 1990s, when the people of Paris awoke to a changed city. A street artist by the name of Invader had installed several mosaics on city structures using tiles as a medium and retro video games as an inspiration.
The anonymous artist has since invaded his way into the hearts of art junkies everywhere, calling himself Invader after his first mosaics based on the Space Invader arcade game (see Invader photo gallery). His pixelated mural art style is a call-back to simpler times when being in front of a computer meant nothing more than shooting down Space Invaders, chomping on ghosts with a Pac-Man, or avoiding deadly barrels from a certain Donkey Kong. Since these early beginnings, the public has continued to see new works by Invader in his own creative style, furthering his desire to redefine traditional art.
The Artist Invader's Mission Statement
Some consider the 90s to be an awkward transitional period when the world went from Led Zeppelin to the Spice Girls, perms to belly-button rings, and Atari to PlayStation. Invader capitalized on this era of change to launch a career revolving around new ideas and innovative creations. While his mural art may be seen by some as mere fan service, the more people learn about Invader, the more they see that his message is something more.
“It is first of all about liberating Art from its usual alienators that museums or institutions can be.”
Invader has clearly expressed his desire to take artwork out of the gallery opening where it isn’t always accessible to everyone and bring it into the very lives of everyday city dwellers.
His commitment to originality is also apparent. “My initial source of inspiration was the Space Invaders and a few other video games but I have rapidly developed new models and created totally original icons.” And true to his word, Invader has developed his style even further, elaborating on new pop culture references with mosaic installations like the Big Lebowski while also crafting purely original mural art like his work at Versailles (see Invader photo gallery). Even more intriguing is Invader’s commitment to remain anonymous. “What I do and create is more important than who exactly I am.” Invader’s desire to place the message before the artist is a wonderful reminder of the responsibility which all creators bear.
Influence of Invader
Though launching in France, the street artist has expanded his career to span many cities over many years. Citizens of Kathmandu, Berlin, Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York, Miami, and London began to notice new works by Invader shortly after his week-long campaigns in their city. “Usually, I try to display 20 to 50 pieces per city, which is already a good score. Sometimes I happen to return several times in the same city, deploying different ‘invasion waves’ as I like to call them.” He has launched an astonishing ten waves on Los Angeles alone, one of which involved a controversial mosaic on the Hollywood Sign.
Finding the carefully crafted tile figures soon became a challenge to Invader fans, so much so that the artist would develop an app called Flash Invader which would award points for attempts to learn about Invader and photograph his originals. His plan has been effective as the graffiti artist has gained world-wide acclaim and participated in several gallery openings. He was even featured in the 2010 documentary “Street Art, Exit Through the Gift Shop.” Many roam the streets of their city, hoping to see Invader art.
Invader the Artist - Challenges
While you and I may be able to appreciate the vision and work of Invader to its fullest, other sovereign countries, city councils, and police forces do not. Invader faces a great deal of pushback to his mural art and his attempt to spread the message of nonconformity. “Unfortunately, there are still cases where I am not welcomed. The owner of a gallery I worked with had to spend two weeks in jail being accused of supporting me. There are some countries where I cannot travel anymore as I may be prosecuted.” Invader goes on to say that only the death penalty would keep him from continuing his goal. Perhaps such threats are what keeps the man behind the mask. However, a new challenge has arisen in the form of vandalism. Invader’s works have carried quite the buzz and can now name a pretty price as people learn about Invader, causing would-be-art dealers to remove the mosaics and sell them or even forge new ones. These half-damaged originals and poorly designed replicas are a testament to those whose greed blinds them to the message. It is a testament to what the masked artist stands against, and he is not discouraged.
The future of Invader is full of potential projects and new invasions; however, due to the secrecy of his work, there is no telling what these plans are. Still, the street artist has been quite busy lately, keeping up with an agenda full of new installations in major cities as well as solo exhibitions.
In December of 2018, he performed his 10th invasion of Los Angeles while his solo show, “Into the White Cube” was on display in the city. His latest completion, the invasion of Versailles, marked the end of a two-year mission to place 40 invaders in the city, a daring move yet one that he describes as rewarding. His most recent project has been in contributing to the Visible/Invisible opening, a gallery which will feature works by homeless youths. While he faces many challenges in seeing his installations through, the art world can be sure that new works by Invader will continue to sprout as the artist pursues his dedication to the mission he has laid out. The man who hides behind a mask to avoid the pains of fame and clearly express his message is a testament to all artists of what it means to be a creator. In the meantime, lookout! You may see Invader art in your very own city.