Invader, the French street artist, adopted his pseudonym from the popular arcade game Space Invaders. In the 1970s, he began the first artistic "invasion" in Paris in 1998 by installing coloured mosaic tiles depicting the pixelated alien character from the game. Today, the signature Invader alien motif, along with its witty localized variations, is a global phenomenon, invading more than 35 cities from the street corners of Tokyo to the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, not to mention outer space - via a weather balloon launched into the atmosphere - and the depths of the ocean - through an underwater sculpture by Jason de Caires Taylor.
"Finding the right spots to display my work is the key part of the invasion process," the artist says. "Not everybody goes or can go to museums or galleries, but everybody walks or drives in the street going through their daily lives." (the artist cited in an interview in Hong Kong's 'Space Invaders', The Wall Street Journal Online, 20 Feb, 2014.) The artist's "invasions" therefore are strategic and share the same democratic ethos of other forms of street art. Invader composes the images and prepares the mosaic beforehand so that installation can be swiftly done. Afterwards, the works are catalogued, pictured and archived on a map indicating their exact locations, now digitalized on the artist's official website.
The pixel, an emblem of digital innovation of a by-gone era, is transferred onto ceramic tiles and placed into the physical world. The simplicity of the artist's gestures yields a wide scope of creativity and rich conceptual interpretation about nostalgia and technology, the virtual and the real. The artist explains in an interview, "It was symbolic of the new world of technology and now we are being invaded by digital technology...It's just a little square, but when you put them together, it can create many things." Indeed, capitalizing today's technological advancement, the artist recently released his FlashInvaders mobile app, through which fans around the world can hunt for Invader works and gain points depending on which pieces they locate. For example, Alias NY_145 (Lot 71) is accompanied by an identity card indicating its precise location on the corner of East 10th Street and 1st Avenue of Manhattan, and its score of 50 for the mobile app. The artist also localizes his work with the image of the Big Apple to signify New York City.
A witty localization indeed characterizes Invader's "invasions." Invader seems to be particularly fond of working in Hong Kong and has created large-scale pieces, such as Alias HK_58 (Lot 70), as tribute to the local culture. The work is inspired by a 1970s animated series in the US, Hong Kong Phooey, about a clownishly clumsy Penrod Pooch who transforms into Hong Kong Phooey upon running into a magic filing cabinet. This series was meant as a parody of the proliferation of Kung Fu movies at the time, and Invader re-appropriated the image to pay tribute to Hong Kong, the birth city of such Kung Fu masters as Bruce Lee. The original "invasion" took place in two separate installations in early 2014: one in Happy Valley and the other in Mong Kok. The former has since been destroyed by local authorities; the present lot is a unique Alias work based on the Happy Valley installation, standing as lone testimony to an "invasion" that is no longer there. 2014 marks the artist's third round of "invasion" in Hong Kong, with the works now totaling more than 70. "This is probably my most accomplished city invasion wave," the artist said in an interview. (Op. cit.)
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