Underdogs Gallery is pleased to announce “André Azul”, a solo exhibition by visual artist André Saraiva in Lisbon, Portugal.
For nearly 30 years André Saraiva has been enchanting us with his character Mr A – a friendly and somewhat cheeky alter ego that has been brought to life in the public space of countless cities which the artist has visited around the world, surprising us here and there in unexpected situations and contexts with small poetic games, brimming with colour and happiness, that revitalise and counter the drab greyness, the visual noise, the intoxicating bustle of urban life. Stylised in a string of long, elegant, simplified lines that end in a round head with a large, beaming smile that winks an eye to passers-by, Mr A has taken on a multiplicity of shapes and emotional states according to the location and to the story which the author wishes to convey, developed from its classic format with top hat and pointy shoes. Either alone or accompanied (frequently by his feminine counterpart, Miss A), his presence in the streets of our cities has brought us a magical world that speaks of cheerfulness, of enchantment, of coexistence. By projecting onto the anonymous viewer his iconographic universality – whose vitality resides in the performative expressiveness of its own lines –, it becomes clear that Mr A can also be, after all, each one of us.
It is this poetic, passionate and offbeat interaction with the city and its inhabitants that André brings to his first solo exhibition at Underdogs Gallery – a show that is based on an ensemble of entirely new works that intersect the energetic vivacity of his original language with the distinct sobriety of classic Portuguese azulejo tile work. A medium which the artist has been working with in recent years and that seeks not only to explore his own cultural and identitarian roots but also counter the ephemeral nature that has characterised the bulk of his oeuvre, mostly painted – in a swift, illegal manner – in the public space.
Materialised in a body of work of azulejo panels of different dimensions that favours the depuration of form and colour (condensed here in the characteristic blue of tile work on a white contrasting background that brings it to life), the present exhibition – and the works it comprises – is divided between the gallery space and the very city of Lisbon. The result is a path that invites the viewer to take in the two contexts in a complementary way, discovering and becoming fascinated, here and there, with these captivating vignettes that express existential episodes from Mr A’s multiple lives but which easily also resonate with our own.