Rome, 2010 - The contemporary art gallery Wunderkammern, will be having a show that focuses on the street art of the anonymous French artist Invader. While in Rome, ArtSlant's writer, Jeff Andreoni, had a chance to chat with the artist and ask him a few questions regarding his art, his views and his upcoming show.
Jeffrey Andreoni: Please tell me a little about your self and your work. What inspired you to do street art in the first place? Have you considered other media as well? Painting, sculpture?
Invader: Street art was an accident in my "career". I started because I was working on the link between traditional mosaic and digital pixels and I realised that mosaic was a perfect medium to be put in the streets. But I am an art lover and an art maker for always and I did many other artistic experiments before that. Mosaic and pixel became my trademark but I'm also doing sculptures with Rubik's cubes (this is what I call Rubikcubism) or drawings, and I'm very excited by the idea of doing some painting one of these days.
JA: Near my house in Hackney, I saw a one of your pieces placed high on a wall under a railway overpass. That was several weeks ago. Now I cannot find that piece anywhere. The rumour is that some art collectors sneak out in the night to pry street art pieces like yours off the walls and add them to their own collections. What do you think of this phenomenon?
I: Here in Paris some walls where I put some pieces have been cut off by night! Can you imagine some people cutting a Parisian piece of wall... This is amazing. But for sure I am not supporting this kind of act, because the pieces in the streets are made for the streets.
JA: Do you think it makes sense to place street art in a gallery or museum? Do you ever get requests for installation in private residences?
I: Yes, why not. It is a dangerous exercise, to go from the street to the white cube but if you are a good artist you can make good art anywhere. Come to see "Roma 2010 and other curiosities", and let me know ...
JA: How long does it take you to install a piece? Can you remember the fastest you've worked? How about the slowest?
I: It takes from three minutes up to many hours to install a piece, and that depends on two things: the spot (sometimes you have to be fast, other times you can take your time) and the piece (sometimes it is a tiny piece, other times it is a huge one!)
JA: Have you ever been caught in the act?
I: Yes, few times, but that is a part of the game!
Invader, OIFI2, 2005, Rubik Sculpture; Courtesy Invader
JA: Your work, according to your website, has appeared all over the world…
I: I spread the invasion to more than forty cities now !
JA: This has given you more exposure than any gallerist could dream of. However, unlike a gallery, there is no guarantee of authenticity. Has it ever happened that a "copycat" has placed imitations of your work around?
I: Yes. For example I received some emails with pictures of a space invader mosaic in cities where I have never been in my life, like Mexico or Varsovie! But more than a copycat I think that this an ill-advised support to the project. It is not obvious for everybody that the project is made by one unique person who travels all around the world, then they want to join the "movement" and bring their stone to the edifice.
JA: Normally a counterfeit would be worthless compared to an original, but in your case, it might be worth quite a lot as free publicity (promoting the invader "logo"), would it not?
I: Sure, I think about it in a positive way: the invasion becomes viral!
JA: Now I would like to know what you thought on the Banksy film, "Exit through the Giftshop".
I: It is a nice and funny movie.
JA: Do you feel that you were portrayed in a realistic way?
I: I don't appear so much in it, but yes, what you can see about me is pretty realistic despite the fact that you see me using a spray can and that was the only time of my life I had ever done that!
JA: You have been creating artwork for quite a long time. One might call you a veteran. How do you rate yourself in regards to other artists such as Shepard Fairey? Are you feeling any pressure to compete with the other big "big names" of street art?
I: I feel more respect and a kind of family link, rather than competition, with artists like Shepard Fairey. Because we have our own specificities, world and way of doing it.
JA: What does your family think of your profession? Do you like to associate with other artists or do you avoid them? Do you like to collaborate or do you prefer working alone?
I: I like to work alone, but I am not against the idea of collaborating with good people on good projects.
Invader, Rubik Towers, 2005, Rubix Cubes On Board; Courtesy Invader
JA: Do you think you will ever have to retire?
I: An artist never retires.
JA: Is the physical strain ever too much for you?
I: Do you mean will I stop going on roof tops by night, when I will have a walking stick and a white beard? Who knows ...
JA: Is there any message you have for the ArtSlant readers?
I: You are Invaded!
ArtSlant would like to thank Invader for his assistance in making this interview possible.