Andre Saraiva—graffiti artist, reigning NYC party king, founder of Le Baron—is returning to his native Sweden to stage his latest show. This month,at Stockholm’s Gallery Steinsland Berliner, Saraiva will be debuting “Back to Sweden,” featuring the fantasy concert poster series he’s had covering Los Angeles, New York, London, Venice, Paris and Basel over the last year. The exhibition, created in collaboration with Absolut, we were informed, would also include two mythical nightclub sculptures to help create “a new narrative of illusion versus reality for the worlds of music and nightlife.” Intrigued by the show, the hype, and the man, we got Saraiva on the line to discuss his Dream Concert series and the worth of graffiti art.
Why choose Absolut to collaborate with for your art?
Absolut has always been supportive of my projects and helped me to realize my vision. For example, my exhibition last year at The Hole and their support for my love graffiti mural at Art Basel Miami. I associate Absolut with pop culture and artists like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring. For me, graffiti is pop and Absolut is the perfect partner.
What made you finally decide to bring back your art to your home country?
I wanted to come back to Sweden because it is the place of my childhood memories and I think it is a good moment to confront the past. I have found wonderful support for this project and it came together at a great time.
What made you decide to take your Dream Concert Series, a street-poster installment, and transform it for a gallery showcase?
This was the point all along. The concert posters are part of a performance. First they exist in the streets as ephemeral objects but they end up in galleries as physical pieces. You go from my dream to a poster on the walls of the street to a permanent object.
How does the nightclub scene tie into this idea of fantasy vs. reality?
I view the night as a place not a time. It is a place for fantasy, dreams and freedom. I always conceptualize nightclubs to fit this idea.
How does your past as a graffiti artist change the way you think about art as gallery installations?
I’ve always thought that graffiti is something that takes place in the streets. It is illegal and a site specific performance. It is more about the action than the result. When you move graffiti into an art gallery it is no longer graffiti but a way to tell the story.
Art and fantasy, music and fantasy, often go hand in hand. Would you say this is what the pop-up club in Stockholm will try and portray?
Yes: Like the Dream Concerts, the pop up club is part of a fantasy that exists only for a short time and in our memories.
What do you say to those who believe graffiti is not art?
The new frontier of art is very vague. Graffiti is made for the moment and it is ultimately the person who makes it who can decide if it is art or not.
Recently, there have been an influx of the “pop-up” structures, (shops, galleries, concerts). Do you think this is the best way to display your art? How is it changing the way we think of art, and does this function work best with your graffiti and other works?
As I said earlier, graffiti is an action and ephemeral in the same way a pop up is a short time and you keep the memory as a souvenir.