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ANDRE SARAIVA | 'MR A'
June 14th 2019
“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 André Saraiva. 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 during the nineties.
by Henrik Riis
NEWS FROM EYESTORM
André Saraiva is both a graffiti artist and entrepreneur. He was born in Uppsala, Sweden, of Portuguese origin. At the age of 10, André 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, at the age of 19, had dreamed up his signature tag.

A contemporary of Zevs and Invader, two of the most prominent figures in the street art scene back then, 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, the artist saw the non-verbal expression of his tag, “Mr. A” as a logical and natural progression for him.

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.
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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 (INCL. VAT)
£ 870.00
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Find art trends here >
André drew thousands and thousands “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 recognizable, never too far away.

At the turn of the 21st century, more and more art collectors opened their eyes to 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. Two years later he became a partner in a Tokyo club as well as New York’s notorious, semi-private club, 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 print editions with Eyestorm; one print in the signature pink colour, Mr. A (Pink) and the other in a cool monochrome black, Mr. A (Black). Both editions of 50.
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Art is about talking with each other and via ‘Make an Offer’ you can have a direct conversation with us and suggest a price for this artwork.
Your Offer *
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Any Comment? *
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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 (INCL. VAT)
£ 870.00
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
A growing recognition for André Saraiva’s work since 2010, has moved his art indoors into galleries and museums on both sides of the Atlantic and the gallery presence has given a new platform to his graffiti art. With this exposure he has proactively 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 art using 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?

As the debate goes on, André’s work continues to be exhibited in galleries and museums across the globe. In 2011, the artist 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.

From 2018, André Saraiva spent a good part of his time in the vibrant street art scene of Los Angeles and often “artist in residence” at Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard; The hotel synonymous with Hollywood glamour and a clientele of the celebrated who’s who. During his regular visits he has created a series of fascinating and impulsive drawings on Marmont’s complimentary stationary; A sort of visual diary of his stay.

André Saraiva 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 creative endeavors as part of the same irreverent lifelong art project - one that he always approaches with a wink.

The artist’s latest solo exhibition, simply titled “Mr A”, is currently showing at gallery CF Hill in the Swedish capital, Stockholm.

You can find the print editions, Mr. A (Pink) and Mr. A (Black), on André Saraiva’s artist page here.
 
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