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.

Nicolas Buffe @ Hara Museum, Tokyo, by © Nicolas Datiche 2014

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.

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Solo exhibitions

2017 / Poliphile et Polia, GALERIE DE SÈVRES, Paris

2014 / Polifilo’s dream, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo

2014 / Polifilo’s dream, Artium, Fukuoka

2014 / Polia’s Nightmare, YAMAMOTO GENDAI, Tokyo

2012 / Marges, Galerie Schirman & de Beaucé, Paris

2011 / La Peau de Licorne, Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie, Aubusson

2010 / La Tour, Megumi Ogita Gallery, Tokyo

2009 / Mutations merveilleuses de divers trucs, galerie Schirman & de Beaucé
2009 / Games of Love and Chance, Envoy Gallery & SdB, New-York

2007 / Studiolo, Le vestibule, La Maison Rouge, Paris
2007 / Hypnerotomachies, galerie Schirman & de Beaucé, Paris
2007 / Crepusolo della Matina, Chapelle des Calvairiennes, Mayenne

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Group exhibitions

2016 / Nuit Blanche, Paris, France / Kyoto

2014 / The Mirror, Hold the Mirror up to nature, Ginza, Tokyo

2014 / ART KURABIRAKI FUJIYOSHIDA 2014, Former Fuji Seihyo Building, Yamanashi

2013 / Mineral Design, Lieu du Design, Paris, France

2013 / Révélations, Grand Palais, Paris

2013 / Side Core, Terratoria, Tokyo

2012 / Licornes et bestes étranges…, Felletin, France


2011 / Parcours Saint Germain 11, Saint Germain area, Paris

2010 / Pac-Man 80’s to 10’s Game & Culture, Arts Chiyoda 3331, Tokyo

2010 / Toy Show, MEGUMI OGITA GALLERY, Tokyo

2010 / Circuit céramique : Contemporary French Ceramic Scene at Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris

2010 / Fake!, Alost Museum, Belgium

2010 / Confrontation/Céramique, Angoulème Museum – France

2009 / No Man’s Land, French Embassy in Japan, Tokyo

2009 / Play Time, Parcours Saint Germain 09, Saint Germain area, Paris

2008 / Roof Gardens, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo

2008 / Il était une fois…, Parcours Saint Germain 08, Saint Germain area, Paris

2007 / Nuit Blanche, Mayenne Ville, le Kiosque

2007 / Visites dessinées, Musée National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM), Paris

2006 / Salon de la jeune création, Paris

2005 / Exposition n°2, Galerie Schirman & de Beaucé, Paris

2005 / Exposition n°1, Galerie Schirman & de Beaucé, Paris

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Design / Scenography

2016 / Sèvres – Cuisson au four à bois, MANUFACTURE NATIONALE DE SÈVRES, France

2016 / N2 / jewelry design Autumn Winter 2016 collection

2016 / Pierre Hermé “A story of the kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon”, collaboration

2016 / Mitsukoshi Isetan 7 Gods of Fortune Mitsukoshi Isetan, Japan Senses, visual conception, Tokyo

2015 / Scenography, costume design, visual conception and co-direction for the opera “Il Re Pastore” at Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris

2014 / Comme des Garçons SHIRT: Collaboration, drawings for prints Autumn Winter 2014 collection

2014 / Hermès : carré, maxi twilly “Serio Ludere” Autumn Winter 2014 collection

2014 / Hermès: Visual direction for Hermès theme event 2014, Tokyo

2014 / Scenography & costume design for “The Red Shoes” with company Derashinera, Aoyama Round Theatre, Tokyo

2012 / Scenography, costume design and visual conception for the opera “Orlando Paladino” at Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris

2010 / Little Red Riding Hood ′′Carré” (window display), Maison Hermès, Tokyo

2009 / Toys customisation : «Poseidon» & «Mighty» / Shikaruna Koubou, Tokyo

2009 / Scenography for Ten to Sen, Cie Derashinera, Kawasaki, Japan

2009 / Scenography for «Ten to Sen», with company Derashinera, Kawasaki, Japan

2007 / Chesharo, porcelain vase, le CRAFT, Limoges

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Awards/ Grants 

2016 / DSA Space Design Award 2016 Gold Prize, Isetan Shinjuku Store Main building ISETAN JAPAN SENSES “Mutsumi no Bi”

2015 / Creative Europe Media, project funding grant for « Super Polifilo »

2013 / CNC, Dicream, project funding grant for « Locus Terribilis »

2012 / Best Scenic Design of the year for Orlando Paladino, French critics association
FNAGP, project funding grant for « Super Polifilo »

2010 / 1st prize of the Call for contemporary creation project of the Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie, Aubusson, France

2009 / SAM art projects, project « Pulcino »

2008 / Finalist, Le Meurice pour l’Art Contemporain prize, Paris

2007 / Japanese government-sponsored Scholarship program /Tokyo University of the Arts (Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku)
First catalogue funding grant for « Hypneromomachies »

2002 / Drawing award of the National School of Fine Arts, Paris


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2014 / Ph.D. Intermedia Art, Tokyo University of the Arts (Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku)

2011 / M.A. Intermedia Art, Tokyo University of the Arts (Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku)

2007 / Licence in Japanese Language and Civilization Studies, Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (Inalco), Paris

2005 / DNSAP, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (Ensba), Paris (National School of Fine Arts)

2000 / BTS, Architectural environment design, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts-Appliqués et des Métiers d’Arts (Ensaama), Olivier de Serres, Paris

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