Written by Alec Banks
Paris-raised creative André Saraiva, or simply André, has earned a worldwide reputation for making the impossible seem possible through his various artistic endeavors, which run the gamut from graffiti to collaborations with couture fashion houses to curated nightclubs around the world.
While many know Saraiva for his Mr. A character — the top-hat-wearing, winking stick-figure abstraction — the artist also has a notable series that plays off of music lovers’ desires to witness firsthand the ultimate sonic experience.
Whereas 1967’s Monterey International Pop Music Festival (The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, Ravi Shankar, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Simon & Garfunkel), 1970’s Isle of Wight Festival (The Doors, The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Joni Mitchell, Chicago, Joan Baez), 1991’s Cow Palace New Year’s Eve Show (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Pearl Jam) and 1992’s Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium (Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Def Leppard, U2) were all real-life occurrences, Saraiva’s Dream Concerts are just that — figments of his imagination, where he conjures up mythical lineups.
Like many artists, Saraiva regards music as an integral part of his creative process. But it never dawned on him to combine his passions until he was enlisted by Serge Gainsbourg’s son Lulu to create a poster for a tribute concert for his father at the Apollo Theater in New York — a show that ultimately fell through.
“The lineup of artists was amazing,” Saraiva says. “That’s when I realized that just working to put those names together, whether or not it happened, made it exist in my mind. The paintings shown at Beyond the Streets are the art pieces that were the final result of this whole process. All of these paintings had first existed in the streets of the city. They were meant to show how our desire interacts with our imagination to make something seem true or untrue based on how much we want it to exist.”
Saraiva likens his Dream Concerts to creating poetry. The bands are the words, the dates are the stanzas, and the names of venues are the titles.
“The places are sometimes even more important,” he says. “They were, and still are, the physical place that unites the artists and creates those moments. One of the venues in Paris, on the 2nd of July, had a queue and people calling to get tickets, even though the place had been closed for months for renovation.”
Prominent examples include Dr. Dre, Jay-Z and Pharrell Williams playing New York City’s Madison Square Garden and Daft Punk, Phoenix and Justice appearing on a bill at Paris’s L’Élysée Montmartre.
It’s also not a coincidence that Saraiva often arranges his Dream Concerts in strict genres.
“I grew up in an era where genres were really important in culture — in music and in one’s way of getting dressed and approaching the world. All those different movements were and still are a big part of my life and the music I like.”
Aesthetically, the Dream Concerts are presented on paper that takes on a weathered effect when pasted on the street, like traditional promotional material. And since the year is never mentioned, it gives off the impression that the poster has lived on the street for decades, like pieces of graffiti that have avoided the buff.
“Of course, pasting and posting posters is not the same as doing graffiti, but it’s very similar, because it takes place in the same context — the city — and it also plays with lettering and names,” he says. “Yet because of the technique and the material — the paper — their life span is much shorter. They’re even more ephemeral than graffiti.”
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