André Saraiva— aka Monsieur A—is a French street artist best known these days for throwing the wildest parties at his nightclub Le Baron. When he’s not turning away supermodels, Saraiva wanders the world showing (and spray painting) his art. Currently on view at MOCA through October 7th, “André Saraiva: Dream Concerts” is a series of romantic, lyrical paintings and prints that use the language of concert posters to plant an impossible dream in the mind of the viewer. Saraiva’s *Dream Concerts* series is also on view at Gallery Steinsland Berliner in Stockholm, and later this year the show will travel to Maison Kitsuné in Tokyo. I spoke with André about the importance of imagination, urbanism and having fun.
1. I heard that the idea for the *Dream Concerts* series originated as a commission from musician Lulu Gainsbourg. What made your say yes to the project initially?
Lulu asked me to a poster for a tribute concert for his dad (Serge Gainsbourg) at the Apollo Theater. It was an amazing line-up, but [the concert] never happened. So I had this poster lying in my studio and one day I thought it would be amazing just to go and put them in the streets, because in way that would make it happen in the mind of the public. Also, the combination of the [band and artist] names were poetic, like a haiku. Each band brought memories. I started to do other posters inspired by all the big, American rock posters from the 60s, 70s, and 80s that were super graphic and all about the names. I put together [the concerts] that I would love to exist.
2. I was listening to the radio the other day, and thinking about how music used to be regional. The songs that you’d hear in Los Angeles were very different from those you’d hear in New York. Did you tailor each line-up to the city it would be posted in?
Sort of. For each city I choose a very important, iconic, cult venue. I took bands that were part of that history and put them together. But it’s also about the poetry of the names and the words.
3. What are your favorite cities?
I love to travel. LA is for sure one of my favorites. I live between New York and Paris, so of course those are two other favorites. I’m often in London and Tokyo as well. Right now, I like Montauk. It’s a very small city, but it’s nice.
4. Have you spent a lot of time in Los Angeles?
Yeah, I’ve spent a bit of time there. Most of the paintings and prints were produced when I was in LA. I installed my studio at the Chateau Marmont and worked from there.
5. From Mark Bradford to Allen Ruppersberg, many artists have drawn inspiration from the merchant posters that punctuate the landscape in Los Angeles. I know you have a background in graffiti, how does the vernacular influence your work?
The city is essential to me. Most of my work is public work, and related to the language of the city and what it communicates.
6. What else do you dream about?
Oh, so many things! I dream art shows, and parties, and films, people I would love to spend time with, but most of them are gone so it would be very difficult.
7. You’ve been described as a “night life impresario.” Any plans to get into the concert promotion business and bring these concerts to life?
I’ve always preferred dreams to reality. Sometimes things are stronger when they live in our imagination.
8. Artist Karthik Pandian wrote that the nightclub is “a visual, musical, spatial, kinetic… montage… a work of art in its own right…” What’s your advice for having a good night?
[Laughs] A very simple way is to take a bit of molly. That works for sure. But there are many other ways to have a good night. I think it’s important to go out with an open mind, not plan anything, and let things happen.
9. What is your go-to, never fail going-out outfit?
I have a uniform. I have my pair of APC jeans that I’ve had since forever, my pair of little black boots, my t-shirt, sometimes a denim or leather jacket, depending on the weather, some hair cream to put my hair back, and that’s enough. I don’t have to think about it.