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ANDRÉ | INVESTING IN ART
André Saraiva is both a graffiti artist and entrepreneur. He was born in 1971 in Uppsala, Sweden, of Portuguese origin from his parents who fled the regime of dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar during the Portuguese Revolution.
 
At the age of 10, Andre left Sweden for Paris along with his family, his talent for drawing and an ignorance of the French language. He instantly became drawn to the underground culture of graffiti art at this time and by 1989 had dreamed up his signature tag
“A city without graffiti is a dead city” and so is the mantra for the man whom street artists and fans call André, Monsieur A, Mr A or Monsieur André. His iconic personal tag of a round-headed cartoon with a devilish grin, top hat and winking eye established him as a breakthrough artist at a time when the alphabet provided the basis of most graffiti art.

A contemporary of Zevs and Invader, two of the most prominent figures in the street art scene, André achieved his own popular status in the 1990s thanks to the prevalence of his signature cartoon image across Paris. Looking at it years later and in the light of his not being a native French speaker, André saw the non-verbal expression of his tag, “Mr. A” as a logical and natural progression for him after he gained early street notoriety for splashing his name in lurid pink when all graffiti artists concentrated on tagging letters and words in order to gain each others’ attention. Before the fame that Mr. A brought to André, he worked at a furious pace and by his own account, tagged Mr. A an average of 10 times per day for more than 10 years, creating frantically and compulsively.

He drew over 300,000 Mr. A's in many different mediums at the beginning of his career and devoted years to graffiti, without notably being acknowledged for it - then abruptly, the public became taken with Mr. A and the name has since become interchangeable for both the artist and his cartoon and for the concept of “Love Graffiti”. The Love Grafitti series took off in the early 2000s and featured expansively spray-painted first names, often surrounded by rows of small hearts and stars and located near to where the addressed person lived to be sure they spotted it. André quickly received requests and then commissions for these subjects - mostly created in his expressive bright pink colour and with the cartoon face that had become so recognisable never too far away.
Andre

Mr A (Pink) , 2010

59(w) x 84(h) cm
23.39(w) x 33.11(h) inches
Screenprint on 300gsm Somerset satin
Edition of 50
PRICE
$ 1,000.00
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At this time, at the turn of the 21st century, more and more art collectors discovered street art and so discovered André and Mr. A. Subsequently the artist’s other ventures grew with his newfound celebrity and in 2004 he opened the nightclub Le Baron in a former Paris brothel. In 2006 he became a partner in a Tokyo club as well as New York’s notorious, semi-private Beatrice Inn and in 2010 he appeared in several scenes of Banksy’s infamous street art film “Exit Through the Gift Shop”.

That same year he held his first solo show and launched two exclusive screen prints with Eyestorm, a few of which are still available today in a limited editions of 50; one print is in the signature pink colour, Mr. A (Pink) and the other in a cool monochrome black, Mr. A (Black)

As André’s nightlife empire expanded [and imploded], so too was a growing recognition for his fine art, and since 2010 his work has been regularly displayed indoors via galleries and museums on both sides of the Atlantic. Gallery presence has given a new platform to his graffiti art along with the introduction of his imagery into thenightspots that he owns. With this different exposure he has proactively changed the nightlife of cities and also reinterpreted the meaning of graffiti art, from underground opposition to a more friendly and accepted setting where the general public are invited to participate with it, either by means of a Love Graffiti commission or by dancing the night away in the vicinity of a giant, jolly, stick-man.

Despite the warm and friendly nature of his graffiti works, André hasn’t always been beloved as an artist but has been shunned by some as a ‘vandal’, an insult that many a graffiti artist comes up against. He admits, “you have to fight to get noticed both physically and metaphorically” and this overzealous approach hasn’t been without its problems. Environmental activists defending the Joshua Tree National Park in California where André drew graffiti on a rock face, roused an important discussion on the destructive profile of graffiti artusing nature rather than the city, as the artist’s canvas. Defacement or not, the incident at Joshua Tree raises important questions such as; how different is graffiti in national parks to street art? If street art is OK, is this OK? Is there a correlation?"
Andre

Mr A (Black) , 2010

59(w) x 84(h) cm
23.39(w) x 33.11(h) inches
Screenprint on 300gsm Somerset satin
Edition of 50
PRICE
$ 1,000.00
COLLECT NOW
 
 
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  YOU WILL RECEIVE AN EMAIL SHORTLY WITH A COPY OF YOUR OFFER  
 
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As the debate goes on, André's work continues to be exhibited in galleries and museums across the globe, namely at Black Blockin Paris and at Palais de Tokyo. In 2011, André participated in MoCA Los Angeles' Art in the Streets exhibition and the same year his work was displayed at the Grand Palais, Paris, and the 54th Venice Biennale. In 2014, a solo retrospective dedicated to his work was held at the Museu do Design e da Moda in Lisbon and in July 2017 he had a debut solo show in Shanghai. André is always moving and making, with his finger on the pulse and on the nozzle of a can of spray-paint. Whichever way you see it he’s pervasive and has never put away his artistic inspiration. He sees every one of his many ventures as part of the same irreverent lifelong art project - one that he always approaches with a wink?

You can find the screenprint editions Mr. A (Pink) and Mr. A (Black) on André’s artist page here - and read more about street art in our article Street Art | When Does Vandalism Become Art?.
 
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