Mr. A
June 13
— July 5, 2019

 

He Won His Fame Doodling All Over Paris–Street Artist Mr. A Set to Visit Stockholm.

André Saraiva, who is more commonly referred to as Mr A by graffiti aficionados, is visiting Stockholm to carry out a commissioned project (designing the invitations for this year’s Polar Prize Awards Ceremony), but also to exhibit works and execute a series of graffiti performances. Saraiva has roots in Uppsala, but lives in New York. He made his name on the graffiti scene in the 80s and 90s, and won acclaim for his character Mr A, who began to appear in thousands of locations all around Paris.

In the street, André goes by his graffiti name, Mr A. He visits Stockholm to pay homage to another artist who, much like himself, represents a form of expression that has been frowned at for decades, but which is finally coming to be respected as an artistic field in its own right: hip-hop. Grand Master Flash, a pioneer of the genre, is one of this year’s two Polar Music Prize laureates, and Saraiva has been invited to give the prestigious invitation an appropriate look.

André Saraiva was born in Uppsala in 1971, after his parents fled Portugal during Salazar’s military rule. His stay in Sweden would be brief, however, and the family soon moved to Paris. That is where, at age 19, he began to make graffiti works featuring his character in a top hat, which would soon make his name. André himself guesses that he has made close to 300,000 Mr A drawings to date. It’s interesting to note that he was the first to begin using the “unheroic” colour pink in his street art pieces.

In 2002, he opened the concept boutique “BlackBlock” in Paris, at the Palais de Tokyo, where he organised concerts, parades, and shows. In 2010, André appeared in Banksy’s documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. In 2011, he participated in MoCA Los Angeles’s Art in the Streets exhibition. That same year, his works were shown at the Grand Palais in Paris and at the Venice Bienniale. He has taken on commission projects for fashion brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Tiffany & Co, Sonia Rykiel, Levi’s, Nike, and Converse.

Saraiva struggled with doubts over whether he should leave the street for the world of galleries, like superstars Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, KAWS, Neckface, and most notably Jean-Michel Basquiat had done before him. In the end, he chose to show his art in night clubs instead. In this way, he has contributed lively, unique moments to clubbing events in cities like Paris, New York, and Tokyo. His graffiti has a friendly, communicative quality to it, as opposed to one of rebellious social critique.