André Saraiva (b. 1971, Uppsala, Sweden) has created a new model of how to be an artist. He is the embodiment of the intellectual concept of relational aesthetics that developed in Paris in the 1990s, creating art as a social platform. Saraiva has expanded the definition of artist into cultural entrepreneur. Beginning as a graffiti artist on the streets of Paris, he expanded into art-related fashion and the creation of clubs, restaurants and hotels that became homes for artists, musicians and other creative people. Saraiva is an international creative connector, energizing the creative communities of Paris, Lisbon, New York, Los Angeles and Shanghai. Saraiva’s approach to art breaks down traditional hierarchies. Art that emerges on the streets and music that comes from the clubs is valued as much as the art and music in museums and concert halls. In addition, his hybrid approach to art and culture, Saraiva is himself a cultural hybrid, Portuguese by birth, raised in Uppsula, Sweden, until the age of 11, and then achieving his artistic formation on the streets of Paris. In his early years as a street artist, Saraiva walked every street in Paris. He became famous for painting mailboxes, painting eyes above the mail slot, which would function as a mouth. He managed to obtain the map of all the mailboxes in Paris and painted every single one. At his most active, he would also paint 50 Mr. A figures on the streets every day. Mr. A is a dandy-like figure with his top hat, a perfect surrogate for the fluid figure that Saraiva would become. Saraiva painted at night, and the only places that were open then were bars and clubs. The first places where people paid him for his art, sometimes in exchange for drinks, were nightclubs like Les Bains Douches. Clubs were the places where graffiti artists were shown before any galleries were paying attention. Saraiva’s evolution into a nightlife entrepreneur was a natural progression.
Photo © Pierre Björk. Courtesy of André Saraiva.