Graffiti artist André Saraiva talks to us about his treasured Keith Haring t-shirts and the art he collects for his 2-year-old daughter

Much of the art world revolves around questions of value, not just in terms of appraisals and price tags, but also: what is worth your time in These Times, and your energy? , your attention and, yes, your hard-earned money?

What is the personal calculation you do to determine the meaning and value of something? What moves you? What enriches your life?

In this new series, we ask individuals in the art world and beyond about the assessments they make on a personal level, in art and in life.

When he first spray painted a leggy, flashing stick figure on the streets of Paris in 1989, André Saraiva had no idea that he and his graffiti alter ego, MA, would not be content to travel the world – Saraiva’s studio estimates that he’s tagged 20 Mr. Aces per night for the past 30 years, 216,000 of whom are now “running along concrete barricades and walking on surfaces ” – but also enter the world of fine art and luxury.

Mr A in Paris. ©André Saraiva.

The French-Swedish artist has since seen his works exhibited in institutions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Danysz Gallery in Shanghai, and even at the Venice Biennale. Yet, “the streets are still my favorite place to paint and my favorite gallery,” Saraiva wrote in her new book. “It’s free and it’s for everyone.”

Andre Saraiva: The life of graffiti, published last month by Rizzoli, features highlights of the artist’s extensive body of work, including his personal graffiti, paintings, posters and sketches, as well as his collaborations with brands from Levi’s to Louis Vuitton. He also covers his many hospitality projects, from the Beatrice Inn and Le Baron nightclubs in New York, London, Tokyo and Shanghai, to his Hôtel Amour and Hôtel Grand Amour in Paris.

<i>Andre Saraiva: Graffiti Life</i>, by André Saraiva.  © Rizzoli New York, 2022.” width=”686″ height=”1024″  data-srcset=”×1024.jpg 686w, https: //×300.jpg 201w,×1536.jpg 1030w,×2048.jpg 1373w, -34×50.jpg 34w,×1920.jpg 1287w, /10/AndreSaravia_cover_pink-scaled.jpg 1716w” sizes=”(max-width: 686px) 100vw, 686px”/></p>
<p id=André Saraiva: the life of graffiti, by André Saraiva. © Rizzoli New York, 2022.

The book has contributions from Virgil Abloh, Magda Danysz, Jeffrey Deitch and Glenn O’Brien, who described the artist in a poem as a portrait (in turn, Saraiva drew the writer of art, music and late fashion): “NOT FRUGAL BUT KIND OF WASTE, ENJOYING LIFE TO THE LAST DROP BUT NO WASTE!”

Despite his “lavish” life, Saraiva continues to paint Monsieur A everywhere, for everyone, for free. Before his last vernissage – as part of the collective exhibition “Spray Painterly 2” at the Allouche Gallery in New York, which considers graffiti as a refined art – the artist, father and bon vivant based in Paris answered our evaluation questionnaire.

What’s the last thing you splurged on?

I try the opposite of splurging – I try to downsize and live a more zen and minimal life. For the past few years, I’ve been spending a lot of time in an old fisherman’s house on the beach near Lisbon, with just a few books that I like to read. If I feel a little too lonely, I will befriend the fishermen.

Maybe the last thing I splurged on was a wood stove I bought so I could winterize it.

The view of the reduced life of Saraiva in Portugal.  © Atelier André Saraiva.

The view of the reduced life of Saraiva in Portugal. © Atelier André Saraiva.

What are you saving for?

I’m saving for my daughter Henrietta, who is 12 years old. I’ve started making a small art collection for her with works by artists I like – you’ll find lots of my graffiti peers, from Keith Haring to Futura 2000. She’s already enjoying it a bit, and I I’m sure she’ll appreciate it when she’s older.

What would you buy if you found $100?

I would buy lunch for a friend at Aux Deux Amis in Paris. We would start with two small appetizers and a bottle of Poulsard.

What makes you feel like a million bucks?

My daughter’s smile when I drive her to school in the morning. He makes my day.

© André Saraiva

©André Saraiva.

What do you think is your greatest asset?

I think it’s Mr. A. He’s my best friend, and he’s become such a recognizable character that we dropped him.

What do you appreciate most in a work of art?

The life of the artists, their stories, and the force that made them make their body of art.

Who is an emerging artist worthy of everyone’s attention?

My friend Dozie Kanu, who moved from NYC to a small town near Lisbon. He makes objects that could almost be used as furniture, but he mixes the codes of our contemporary and urban culture to question stereotypes and our reactionary society.

Who is an unknown artist who has not yet received his due?

Rammelzee. He was a painter, a musician, a creator of imaginary characters and costumes and an amazing pioneer of graffiti in New York.

What’s not worth the hype?

Orange wine.

What is your most valuable asset?

My Keith Haring t-shirts from his original Pop Shop in New York.

Keith Haring poses at the opening of his Pop Shop.  Photo: Nick Elgar/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images.

Keith Haring poses at the opening of his Pop Shop. Photo: Nick Elgar/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the art world?

Art auctions and art fairs, because when you go there, you take the poetry out of the art. To me, art fairs are like appliance shows, and auction art could be replaced by any consumer product. I feel like the people there don’t care about the quality of the art, they care about the money it will fetch.

What do you think is a good cause?

The love and the future of our children.

What do you aspire to?

My freedom.

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