French artist based in Tokyo and whose heroes range from Dante to Tex Avery and Orlando Furioso to Super Mario, Nicolas Buffe is the creator of a multifaceted and multidisciplinary universe mixing erudite and popular culture. Born in 1978, he was part of a generation naturally marked by Japanese culture, developing from childhood a passion for Anime, Tokusatsu, Japanese manga and Video games. Throughout his studies he adds to these references classical works of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, such as the Roman de la Rose or Poliphilo’s Strife of Love in a Dream. This fusion of narrative and visual influence is omnipresent in his work, mostly based on drawing and the humanist notion of Serio Ludere or playing seriously. Baroque ornaments and cartoon characters merge with harmony in the grotesques drawings he exhibited in venues such as La Maison Rouge, Paris (2007), the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (2008), the Museum of Decorative Arts, Paris (2010) but also in contemporary art fairs both in Europe and Asia. In 2014, in a solo exhibition at the Hara Museum of contemporary art Tokyo, he explores the similarities between the initiatory journey of Poliphilo’s Strife of Love in a Dream and video games like The Legend of Zelda, in a series of installations that combine the lightness of a theme park and the seriousness of a museum.
This fusion of narrative and visual influence is omnipresent in his work, mostly based on drawing and the humanist notion of Serio Ludere or playing seriously.
Photo by Nicolas Datiche, 2014
Besides contemporary art, Nicolas Buffe enjoys exploring multiple creative domains that took him from sculpture to scenography. In the field of decorative arts, he has designed the Chesharo vase for the CRAFT Limoges, and won the award for contemporary creation of the Cité internationale de la tapisserie d’Aubusson (Aubusson International City of tapestry) with his Peau de Licorne (Unicorn Hide). Alongside these partnerships with cultural institutions he developed several collaborations in the areas of luxury and high fashion: for the autumn-winter 2014 he was requested by Hermès to draw the Serio ludere carré scarf and maxi-twilly, and by Comme des Garçons, drawings for the ready-to-wear collection SHIRT and series of installations. In 2012, he ventured into opera and created for the Théâtre du Châtelet Orlando Paladino’s visual conception, set design and costumes; he won for his pop version of this Haydn’s baroque opera the award of Best Scenic Design of the 2011/12 season given by the French critics association. In 2015, back at the Théâtre du Châtelet, he co-signs the staging of Il Re Pastore, and transforms the rustic decor of a Mozart opera seria in a galaxy of science fiction directly inspired by Star Wars and Final Fantasy.
Nicolas Buffe graduated from ENSAAMA – Olivier de Serres (National School of Applied Arts, 2000 Architectural environment design), the ENSBA (École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris (National School of Fine Arts), 2005), the INALCO (National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations, Paris, 2007, Language and Japanese civilization) and the Tokyo University of the Arts (TUA, Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku, 2011 and 2014, Master and PhD) . He is represented in Tokyo by YAMAMOTO GENDAI gallery.