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Mr. Andre Wants To Give You Something

Words:

Edd Norval
May 10, 2018

Mr. Andre has worked tirelessly for years spreading his love for people through his chosen means of expression - art, or more specifically graffiti. At home in the nighttime, a lot of his life has taken place in those dark hours - the time where he feels most free.

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After moving from his homeland of Sweden to Paris, aged 10, he was unable to speak the language - but that didn't stop him from communicating. Graffiti had a universal appeal. You didn't need to be able to read it to feel it, or to understand what it's trying to say. Mr. A took that even further by neglecting letterforms in favour of a stick-legged figure that has since become ubiquitous with the street art scene.


There comes a point in graffiti artists lives where they are faced with a dilemma - to move into the gallery, risking losing credibility or continue working on the street and maybe never be able to push their form or make an impact beyond graffiti. It all comes down to the kind of person you are and what your desire is. Although this dichotomy has become formulaic, Mr. A eschewed this in favour of rewriting the script, by-passing the gallery and retaining his formative ethos.

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Mr. Andre has always existed at nighttime, like the legality that the form-of-expression would dictate. For him, it's always been about creating work for people with a simple goal of bringing people together. So he began working in nightclubs, not behind the bar though - continuing his art in an environment where people can have fun and fall in love.


When he became interested in the scene, nightclubs in Paris were more flat and commercial than they are now - very few strayed from the model of success dictated by clubs in other major cities. Mr. A saw only one use for them - to sleep. After late night sessions painting aged fourteen, clubs were the only place that was open, so he'd go into them to sleep until the sunrise train came along to take him home.


The character he has created is a conversation, a facilitator of dialogue that transcends language - there are fundamental aspects of its conception. As time moved on, Mr. A began to collaborate with nightclubs, making the places more 'open', embracing the kind of freedom he felt on his dark wanderings through the city. His input was instrumental in opening up the Parisian nightlife.

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The cheeriness of his character and his proclivity to use a bright pink - a colour that's less-seen in the graffiti world, marked his outlook as seeming distinctly utopian. He saw what the world could be with a little tweak, rather than exactly what it is without his input. This willingness to look forward proved to be a great strength.


Perpetually involved in the nightlife of the city, Mr. A opened up his own place - the monumental Le Baron in Paris. It quickly became one of the cities best known spots to congregate at night. Somewhere that people could go to feel free and embrace the night as a space, rather than a time.


There's also 'Love Graffiti', a campaign where he paints a loved-ones name near their house as a commission. It's a simple and clear expression of fondness that is a more novel way of saying 'I Love You' than a card or other such traditional gifts. It was, like most of the things he does, an idea that he liked when it occurred to him - so he saw it through.


A vibrant personality on the art scene, Mr. A has collaborated with many spots associated with fun, parties and nightlife in cities like Paris, New York and Tokyo. He's also collaborated with many designers that share a similar ethos to him. His utopic vision, to create things to better the world, is contagious - you can see that in the cheeky grin of his popular character. If you look hard enough you might see one yourself and if you do, remember the message - be yourself, be free and do what makes you happiest.


ANDRÉ SARAIVA has an upcoming solo show with Underdogs Lisbon between 14 May - 16 June. More information here - www.under-dogs.net/exhibitions/andre-saraiva-solo-show/

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