Secretive artist Invader prepares for Hong Kong exhibition

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 April, 2015, 3:23pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 April, 2015, 1:53pm

The identity of Invader, whose mosaic works on Hong Kong streets were removed by the government in 2014, remains a mystery, that’s despite the fact he has been arrested many times.

   According to the French artist, he has been put behind bars around 20 times in half a dozen countries.

  “But I’ve never stayed more than 48 hours in a cell. Generally people understand that what I am doing is not a crime but art. And it is difficult to keep in jail someone accused of doing art,” he tells 48 Hours ahead of his exhibition, “Wipe Out”, at PMQ in May.

“In Paris many cops are fans of my work and they let me do it!”

With all that fingerprinting, the fact that it is known he studied at one of the Écoles des Beaux Arts, and that another street artist Thierry Guetta (controversial protagonist of a film by British street artist Banksy) is his cousin, you would have thought it would be fairly easy to find out his birth identity.

But it is still, apparently, a secret.

“At first it was for legal reasons…but it quickly became part of my character,” he says. “There are lots of advantages to being unknown. For example, I can attend my own show openings without being recognised and hassled”.

The only thing he would reveal about his personal background is that he doesn’t come from an artistic family “but I always knew I would be doing creative things when I grew up.

“And my parents let me follow my wishes. In fact the whole basement of their house was my studio for years. I was practicing painting, I built a dark room for black-and-white photos and I did silk printing, etc ... I was doing all kind of artistic stuff without being taught.”

“Wipe Out” is part of this year’s Le French May and the show will run at PMQ from May 2 to 17

Read more about Invader in the April 30 issue of 48Hours