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Invader mosaic a street art centrepiece

A rescued tile mosaic by global street artist Invader has become the centrepiece of a new street art exhibition in Melbourne.

The French artist, named for the video game Space Invaders and known for his mosaics of 1980s game characters, has secretly installed his artworks on the streets of about 80 cities around the world.

A mosaic Invader made on the wall of the Arts Centre Melbourne building in 2002 was saved during major renovations in 2018, and is now the focal point in Off The Grid.

Arts Centre staff who wanted to save the artwork asked the builders to carve out a massive chunk of bluestone around it, which was then stored there for years, curator Lachlan MacDowell told AAP.

He said Invader’s contribution to Melbourne’s street art is on par with better-known artists such as Banksy.

“We’ve spent a lot of time and attention celebrating Banksy’s contribution, but in some ways Invader’s contribution is just as interesting and unlike with Banksy, many Invader works still survive in the city.”

The exhibition explores the city’s wider street art movement in the early 2000s, including Goon Hug’s sticker-covered tram stops, and Renk and Carl, who tagged abandoned buildings.

It also looks at the anonymous collective Cratemen that installed milk-crate sculptures, and Sydney artist Andy Uprock who installed complex patterns of disposable plastic cups in chain link fences.

Invader’s work resonates in Melbourne particularly because it mirrors the CBD’s grid formation, Mr MacDowell said.

“By placing his art in Melbourne, Invader activated a longer history that draws together Melbourne’s colonial streetscapes and the pixelated screens of digital culture,” he said.

Off The Grid: Invader and Melbourne Street Art in the early 2000s is on display at Melbourne Town Hall’s City Gallery from September 14 to February 2023.

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