It’s often that graffiti tagged across a scrappy, dimly lit wall will be appear too bold, embossed, rushed or careless. Such common hands very rarely becomes emblematic. Only a grip of graffiti artists can claim revered handiwork, and most of them can be found in the MindTai memory banks, inspiring enough loot of your local art supply. It’s not the time to produce such a list of icons however, but focus on one that has eclipsed the realm of street art and moved into iconography representative of something more.
I first came across Andre Saraiva’s work back in 2008 when he enlisted his signature character, Mr. A, to star alongside the saxxxy myrt Lou Doillon in Cazal’s all time video for “Somebody Somewhere”. I hadn’t paid much attention to the band before then, something about the action on screen and the nature of the scene inspired me to invest in what would become one of my favorite all time albums. The stop motion infusion of the Mr. A character so usually found stagnent on blank walls was the first of it’s kind I had seen. I of course was the prat in the joke, with much of Paris, Tokyo and NY well acquainted with Mr. Saraiva’s work long before. It is interesting to note that he regards his work, not as vandalism, but beautiful crime. Judging by the multitude of avenues Andre has infused his work into, it’s clear that many share this view.
It did not hurt that at the time i noticed his work, Andre was not only conjuring up his images across many iconic spaces but also creating album art for one of my favorite labels, Kitsuné. My next encounter with his characters came when I was living in Paris a couple years ago. Some friends took me to a venue named Le Baron, an after hours low down shared by the best of the worst, and one of the first things I noticed was Mr. A and other notes in Saraiva’s signature hand. The place proved to be easily my favorite spot in the city and I learned later that Savaira was indeed instrumental in creating the environment that it so enjoyed. It became apparent that Andre was one of the few examples of artists that transcend their actual work and become instrumental in a manner of going about. As a note, there are now three Le Baron’s scattered across the globe now as well as a well guarded door in LA.
Many a tagger probably look upon Andre’s work with a happy scoff, the simplicity of design and execution paling in comparison to the detail of many graffiti artists. I however think that the key to the success he has enjoyed is due precisely in fact to that simplicity. Whether on a garage door, pair of tits or bottle of vodka, Andre’s work has elevated to a level only reserved for those whose message is so clearly understood and embraced it needs no introduction. cheers