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 to the FIAC in Paris or the Paris Contemporary Drawing Fair. 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 :· - 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

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

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

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

2008 / Roof Gardens, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo

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Design / Scenography

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 

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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