André, better known by his tag name of Monsieur ‘A’ has, since the late 1980’s, encapsulated excitement in the streetwear culture and created iconic figures around the world.
Name: André Saraiva
Year of Birth: 1972
Birthplace: Gothenburg, Sweden
Raised in Paris André Saraiva came to notoriety in the late 1980’s amongst Paris’ underground art movement. Using art as a way to convince a girl of his emotions, André created a buzz of excitement as people saw the first examples of his ‘Love Graffiti’. From these very early examples grew André’s now world famous character. A stick figure with a top hat, large smile and ‘X’ in place of one eye, gave an abstract image to the previously unknown artist. Going by the tag Monsieur ‘A’, André aimed to keep his association with the works as minimal as possible – understandably to avoid repercussions of public vandalism. André however does not lead the life of an ordinary artist. Throughout the 1990’s his popularity continued to grow on the streets of Paris and although some pieces were seen in galleries around the city he never fully made the transition. Instead André has created a career in the mould of the ‘Ideal’ for any streetwear loving individual. Since the early 1990’s André organised raves in the underground movement of Paris, stemming into the world famous Le Baron Night Clubs in Paris and Tokyo which he owns today. Therefore it would seem that the ‘Love’ figure is in reality the essential elements of André himself. The top hat suggests the elegance of man of enjoys art – albeit of an underground beginning – the smile suggests the charm and enjoyment he gets from pursuing his goals, whilst the wink instigates the spark which has allowed him to meet the influential figures who have defined his career, and allow him to call Marc Jacobs and Stefano Pilati friends. His primary colour choices of black, white and pink also suggest the comfort he gains from knowing who he his both as an artist and person, something which he is not afraid to hide. Examples of André’s work appear worldwide from Copenhagen to Hong Kong, although probation in Paris means he is deterred from working in his home city. Moving on from art and Night Clubs, André within the past three years has launched his own clothing label titled Black Bloc – sharing its name with his boutique in the Palais de Tokyo, collaborated with Medicom Toy and designed bottles for drinks company Belvedere.
André appears to be the walking definition of the streetwear idol, from his famous paint splattered skinny jeans to dark jacket and sunglasses he lives and breathes the culture. The paint marks on clothing do suggest however he likes to keep a reminder of how he has forged such a successful career. His latest artistic projects includes individual artwork for clients, who, for $2500 can have their partners name spray painted on their wall of choice in any city. 2010 also saw his first ever solo exhibition, in Colette Gallery space in Paris. This is the ultimate endorsement of a heralded figure who has, like the store, brought underground cultures and mixed them with high end fashions. The unusual element of this exhibition however was that it featured intricate pencil drawings not normally associated with André. Perhaps this suggests that at 38, the man who has forged a career from being diverse has finally come full circle by reinventing his artwork. Oliver Zahm has said of André: “He makes friends instantly and then his new friends become your friends”, perhaps the true mark of the man who has mixed countless cultures within the space of 20 years.