André Saraiva

On the street André is known by his graffiti-artist alter ego, the tag Mr. A and for his concept “Love Graffiti.” Mr A is a funny, round face, with a huge smile and a wink that follows you everywhere, and now is all over the world — and often in pink! — a color that is pretty much taboo in the graffiti world, except when itʼs Andréʼs monochromatic style. The Love graffiti are tags of peopleʼs names commissioned by their loved ones that he does in pop colors near where they live, so that they canʼt miss it.

Unlike the past 20 years of street graffiti, where a street artist imposes an anonymous tag for an anonymous crowd — some merely staining a depressing urban landscape, a few becoming famous gallery artists, such as Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, KAWS, Neckface, and of course Samo — André has hesitated to go from the street into the galleries. Rather heʼs given a new sense to his graffiti art, first, by by-passing the walls of the gallery and introducing his imagery into clubs or night spots, which he participates in opening and promoting all over the world. In doing so he has proactively changed the nightlife of cities such as Paris, New York, and Tokyo. He also reinterprets the meaning of graffiti art, from underground opposition to a more friendly and utopian alternative to the day time. André is one of those rare people who is able to make things happen naturally. His genuine generosity extends into the romantic utopian nightspots he creates, and where people meet.

His second move, after having gone from the wall of the street to the walls of clubs, is choosing drawing over classic canvas work. In quiet moments, he prefers drawing on scraps of paper or in notebooks, which heʼs constantly filling, but rarely shares with others. This is a more personal and intimate activity, far from the commercialism of art.

For the first time in many years, he will be showing his work in Lisbon, and it will also be the first time he’s doing an exhibition that mixes so many different areas of his work, so to understand him a little bit better we asked him a few questions ahead of his MUDE exhibition:

– About you, how many Mr. A’s have you drawn? Do you still draw them?

For over twenty years I’ve been putting Mr. A around every place I go. I used him to find my way home like Hansel and Gretel following the breadcrumbs. I think at certain moments in my life I made a rule to a paint ten a day. If I missed a day I would double the amount. I think I’ve made more than one hundred thousand and still use them today to find my way home.

– Tell us a little about your exhibit at MUDE?

It’s the first time I will be showing my work in many years in Lisbon and in Portugal. It is also the first time I’m doing a show mixing so many different areas that I’ve been working in and showing them in the same place.

– If you could choose someone alive or dead to be on the cover, who would it be and why?

I would choose my mom for the cover if she would ever let me photograph her one day.

– Secret location?
I love to walk around the botanic garden.

– Best view?
From the Ritz!

– A weird talent? Or what’s the weirdest thing you’ve /experienced in Lisbon?
I have never really lived in Lisbon for a long time but every time I come I feel it is my city.

– Where can we find you on a Saturday afternoon (when in Portugal)?
At the beach Praia do Meco.

– A perfect day with your friends?
Having them over at my place and cooking food for them enjoying a long day and late night of drinking and talking.

– A trend for Lisbon’s future?
I see a lot of places that change and we live in a world that wants to be modern and trendy and I admire and respect places that never run after trends and are capsules in time. For me, Lisbon is one of the them.

– Favorite drink in the city?
A Super Bock beer at the counter of a Brasileira.

– Favourite portuguese dish?
Prego No Pão.

– A cool place for dinner in town, that you recommend to your friends who are in Lisboa 2 days?
Cervejaria Trindade

– Favorite book/band/movie?
Paroles by Jacques Prevert with the cover of Graffiti by Brassai. My favorite band is The Specials and my favorite movie is Lethal Weapon