Q&A: Graffiti artist Mr A on Hong Kong and the traditions of graffiti

Over the years, graffiti artist André Saraiva’s alter-ego, the iconic cartoonish winking smiley face known as Mr. A, has been turning up all over the world.

andré saraiva art exhibitionThis March, for Hong Kong’s art month, the Paris-based artist is exclusively collaborating with Lan Kwai Fong to bring his eclectic works to Hong Kong at Loft 22. His pieces will also be the inspiration for twelve limited-edition menus available at this year’s Savouring Art 2018 campaign in Lan Kwai Fong.

The exhibition will feature pieces created in loco by Saravia and create a ‘happiness culture’ for the audience. Hong Kongers will have a chance to see his personal and professional evolution throughout his three decade-long career. Expect to see colourful paintings on canvas, witty drawings and live works made on site, which will give you a shot of happiness to take with you throughout your day.

Highlights include André Solo Show, depicting his famous Mr A as a whimsical French painter and Comma, a mix of colourful commas swimming around the paper – bound to bring a smile to anyone’s face.

andré saravia comma
When Saravia, originally from Sweden, began his career in Paris the late 1980s, he did so by creating outside the box: he used many monochromatic elements (usually pink) and brought his art to night clubs before they ever ended up in galleries. By doing so, he reinterpreted the meaning of graffiti by positioning them in his own kind of nightlife utopia – he also owns clubs in major cities around the world. In the past decade, his project Love Graffiti – a performance piece in which Saraiva sprayed commissioned names of someone’s lover at an address of their choice – and large-scale neon installation Andrépolis have been much talked about in the art world.

As of today, Mr. A has been tagged more than 300 times and Saraiva’s works have been featured in museum and art galleries all over the world as well as in collaborations with fashion houses such as Chanel and Levi’s.
givenchy andré saravia
We caught up with Saraiva to talk his upcoming exhibition, Hong Kong and food.

What can we expect from your exhibition at Loft 22?
I dedicate this show to Hong Kong. I've been going there for many years and with this exhibition I wanted to make an homage to Mr. A and his relationship with Hong Kong.
What pieces should we look out for?
Lots of Mr. As and many new pieces. Most of the show will be produced in situ.
How does technology influence your art?
Spray cans and markers are as close as I want to go with technology in my art. I cherish art that is handmade and crafted, so I use techniques that are as traditional as I can.
Aside from being an artist, we know you’re also a restaurant owner. What trends do you see for 2018?
In the last 15 years, I feel that the quality of food has really improved and the expectation of the customer has become much more educated. People care a lot about the products and where they come from. The food that you eat must not just be prepared with love, but it also must be grown and raised with love and quality.
Do you cook as well?
I love to cook. The few people who have tasted my food seem to like it.
What's your favourite food?
My favourite ingredient is coriander and my favourite food is Swedish meatballs.
What’s on your playlist right now?
Leonard Cohen and La Femme
What memory comes to mind when you think of Lan Kwai Fong?
I remember it as a very lively neighbourhood where I used to hang out a lot. It's always been the best place to take the temperature of Hong Kong and feel its energy. Many years ago I used to get lost at night and spray some Mr. As on the walls around there.

André Saraiva Solo Show
Lan Kwai Fong is bringing a special solo show in collaboration with The Danysz Gallery to showcase renowned graffiti artists André Saraiva in Hong Kong at Loft 22 from March 30 to April 1. As part of the Savouring Art 2018 campaign, André will not only be exhibiting his iconic witty drawings and colourful paintings on canvas but he also will be creating specials works made on site for the show, all inspired by happiness.

Exhibition Date:30/3-1/4 (2pm-8pm)
Venue: LOFT22, 22/F California Tower, 30-36 D'Aguilar Street, Central

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