He was one of the first European graffiters to furtively paint in Paris in the 1980s. Thanks to the rather unusual Mr. A, a “naïve” flea-like character that always wears a top hat and which became his trademark, he has been arrested dozens of times and is banned from painting in the streets of both Paris and New York. However, this does not stop his art from continuing to spread throughout the world. André manages to combine the look of a rebellious and provocative artist, while nurturing his pop star aura and demonstrating his ability in the field of public relations and business. He owns the exclusive Le Baron club, which, in addition to being located in an old brothel and a popular haunt of fashion designers, models, musicians and artists, also hosts exclusive parties during Paris’ fashion weeks. However, his empire does not stop there. He is the owner of “Hotel Amour”, the restaurant “La Fidelité”, the “Le Montana” Lounge and the “Black Block” shop, all in the French capital. The exclusive Hotel Ermitage, in Saint-Tropez, and the Le Bain club, located on the top floor of the Standard hotel in New York are also his. ¶ The son of two Portuguese emigrants, he was born in Uppsala, in Sweden, before moving to Paris at the age of ten. He began painting when he was 15. Shortly before chancing his arm as an entrepreneur with his friend Lionel Bensemoun (whose father owns various casinos) and having a daughter with the singer Uffie, he sold paintings in the Metro as part of the “Love Graffiti” project, where, in exchange for €2,500, he wrote the names of the romantically entwined in giant letters in the streets of Paris. He has a gift for dealing with people and is on friendly terms with some of the most influential figures in the French art and business world. He is close to Marc Jacobs, and Léa Seydoux and can be found posing with Scarlett Johansson at parties. He is a friend of the multi-millionaire heiress Daphne Guinness, photographer Ryan McGinley and Thierry Costes, owner of one of the most luxurious hotels in Paris. Some call him the social alchemist. He says that what most inspires him is nightlife, love, women and sex, and that everything that he does is connected to his art. At 42, he is currently working on his first feature film, a love story between two teenagers.
text by bernardo mendonça —— photo by vasco colombo
Is it on the streets that you find your place as an artist?
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