Purple Night

[February 6 2010]

Andre’s Drawings show, Paris

Andre’s Drawings show, Paris

André is known on the street by his graffiti-artist alter-ego’s tag, Mr. A, and for his “Love Graffiti” concept. Mr. A is a funny round face with a huge smile and a wink that follows you everywhere. You can spot him all over the world — often in pink! — a color pretty much taboo in the graffiti world, although not when it’s used with André’s monochromatic style. Love Graffiti features tags of people’s names commissioned by their loved ones. André does them in pop colors on surfaces near to where the people live so that they can’t miss seeing them.

Most of the street graffiti of the past 20 years involved street artists painting anonymous tags for an anonymous crowd. Some of these artists merely stained a depressing urban landscape; a few others, such as Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, KAWS, Neckface, and, of course, Samo, went on to become famous gallery artists. André always resisted abandoning the street for the galleries. Rather, he’s given graffiti art a new dimension by presenting it in the clubs and nightspots he participates in opening and promoting all over the world. In doing so he has proactively changed the nightlife of Paris, New York, Tokyo, and other cities. He has reinterpreted the meaning of graffiti art from that of an underground opposition to that of a friendlier and more utopian alternative. André is one of those rare people able to make things happen naturally and his generosity is amply expressed in the romantic nightspots he creates.

After going from the walls of the street to the walls of the clubs, André’s next move was choosing drawing over classic canvas work. In his quiet moments he prefers drawing on scraps of paper or in notebooks. This work he rarely shares with others — it’s the product of a personal and intimate activity, one he keeps far from the commercialism of art. Here is a selection of drawings André made especially for the Colette Show and for Purple, drawings influenced by the psychedelic love imagery of the ’60s and ’70s and by André’s memories of the comic books he read as a child. In his world drawings have a special currency — they’re like billets-doux to share love. For André, the only way to escape the smothering blanket of capitalism, in or out of the art world, is with the things money can’t buy: love.

Text and photo Olivier Zahm


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