The Artists

André Saraiva x Mr. A

André Saraiva x Mr. A

Graffiti was the first way André Saraiva made his mark on the world. He was born in Sweden, and grew up on the outskirts of Paris tagging his name on the neighborhood’s walls as an urgent declaration of his existence.

His works have been shown in museums and contemporary art galleries around the world, with a monumental wall of tiles installed in Lisbon in 2016. Now an established hotelier, restaurateur, and nightlife pioneer, André Saraiva has never put away his spray can.

In fact, he sees every one of his many ventures as part of the same irreverent lifelong art project. One that he always approaches with a wink – just like his iconic graffitied alter-ego, Mr. A.

What inspired you to participate in this Peanuts project?

I’ve been a big admirer of Charles Schulz and all the Peanuts characters for a very long time. They’ve always been a huge source of inspiration for my own artwork.

Which Peanuts character is your favorite? OR What is your favorite memory of Peanuts?

I love all the characters, but I have a particular affection for Linus and his blanket. He reminds me of myself when I was a kid. I always wish that I could have a Snoopy dog and a Woodstock bird.

Nina Chanel Abney

Nina Chanel Abney

Combining representation and abstraction, Nina Chanel Abney’s paintings capture the frenetic pace of contemporary culture. Broaching subjects as diverse as race, celebrity, religion, politics, sex, and art history, her works eschew linear storytelling in lieu of disjointed narratives. The effect is information overload, balanced with a kind of spontaneous order, where time and space are compressed and identity is interchangeable. Her distinctively bold style harnesses the flux and simultaneity that has come to define life in the 21st century. Through a bracing use of color and unapologetic scale, Abney’s canvases propose a new type of history painting, one grounded in the barrage of everyday events and funneled through the velocity of the internet.

Abney was born in Chicago and currently lives and works in New York. Her work is included in collections around the world, including the Brooklyn Museum, The Rubell Family Collection, Bronx Museum, and the Burger Collection, Hong Kong. Abney’s first solo museum exhibition, Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush, curated by Marshall Price, Nancy Hanks Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, was presented earlier this year at the Nasher Museum of Art, North Carolina. It will travel to the Chicago Cultural Center (February 10–May 6, 2018) and then to Los Angeles, where it will be jointly presented by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the California African American Museum (September 23, 2018–January 20, 2019). The final venue for the exhibition is the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York (April 7–August 4, 2019). The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive, fully-illustrated hardcover catalogue with critical essays by Price, as well as Jamillah James, curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Natalie Y. Moore, a South Side bureau reporter for Chicago Public Media, WBEZ; and Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History at Duke. The catalogue is distributed by Duke University Press and designed by Reneé Cagnina Haynes. Abney's first solo exhibition at Jack Shainman Gallery opens November 2017.

What inspired you to participate in this Peanuts project?

When I was a kid, I was completely hooked on all of the Peanut's movies. "Run for your life, Charlie Brown" was one of my favorites. The subtle humor and illustrations always kept me captivated. As a child I would draw all of my favorite cartoons, so to be able to filter Peanuts through my creative lens is definitely a childhood dream come true.

Which Peanuts character is your favorite? OR What is your favorite memory of Peanuts?

In addition to watching A Charlie Brown Christmas every year for pretty much my entire childhood, my favorite memory of Peanuts is my mom buying me a Snoopy sheet set for my bed. I currently still have one of the pillowcases!

AVAF

AVAF

Assume Vivid Astro Focus was founded by Eli Sudbrack (b. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1968; naturalized U.S. citizen since 2015) in 2001. Sudbrack every so often works as a duo with Paris-based artist Christophe Hamaide Pierson (b. Paris, 1973). Occasionally AVAF also morphs into a collective, depending on the different projects they are involved in. Sudbrack lives between New York and São Paulo.

AVAF works in a vast array of media, including painting, drawing, installations, video, sculpture, neons, wallpaper, decals, and often confronts gender, politics, and embedded cultural codes through pop imagery and neon colors. The duo brings a passionate collaborative spirit to every aspect of their work—from conceiving projects in tandem, to employing an extensive range of references and materials, to executing large-scale installations with expert, animated, diversely talented teams. AVAF approaches every project with a combination of all-encompassing, unbridled vision and keen pragmatism.

Personal expression and a lust for life are prominently emphasized in projects that are simultaneously rooted in politics of free speech, civil rights, classifications of class, gender and national identity. Infused by pop culture and political references, AVAF is influenced by multiple sources and visual traits from art, culture, politics, sociology, fashion and music, creating stunning and visually explosive mash-ups of transformed and re-contextualized references. AVAF operates with a hedonistic spirit, and engages in frequent collaborations with musicians, designers, dancers and other artists, challenging conventional assumptions about authorship and the role of the artist’s persona in society and the contemporary art world with their core beliefs as foundation: “share, generosity, contaminate, be contaminated, devour, be devoured, travel and spread”.

AVAF has done worldwide collaborations with various notable brands along their 10 years-plus career that have assumed the most different outcomes. Noteworthy partnerships include Lady Gaga and Barneys New York (2012); Comme de Garçons (2011); Nike (2014 and 2017); Citizen M Hotels in London (2012 and 2016) and Paris (2017); Melissa (2011/2012); Pepsi (2008); MAC Cosmetics (2016); Le Sport Sac (2004); Henzel Studio (2014); and The Rug Company (2008).

AVAF has also been the subject of major exhibitions and public art projects around the world. These include MATE (Museo Mario Testino), Lima, Peru (2017); The Faena Art Center, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2014) and Miami (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Santa Barbara, USA (2016); Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Germany (2016); Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, USA (2015); Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), North Miami, USA (2013); The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway (2009); São Paulo Bienal, São Paulo, Brazil (2008); Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, USA (2008); Museum of Contemporary Art (MOT), Tokyo, Japan (2007); 1st Athens Biennale, Athens, Greece (2007); The Geffen Contemporary (MoCA), Los Angeles, USA (2005); The Whitney Biennial, New York, USA (2004); among others.

What inspired you to participate in this Peanuts project?

For me it was an honor to work with the Peanuts characters. They were present massively in my childhood thru the newspapers dailies (in Brazil). For my project I decided to mostly concentrate in images with the characters in “action” (tumbling, running, roller skating, surfing, dancing, etc) since I thought the mash up of AVAF and Peanuts would create this fantastic energetic/exhilarating/dynamic/electrifying reaction to whoever is exposed to it.

Which Peanuts character is your favorite? OR What is your favorite memory of Peanuts?

My two absolute favorite characters are Peppermint Patty and Snoopy. I had a super sweet crazy energetic smart dog when growing up who I named Snoopy.

FriendsWithYou

FriendsWithYou

FriendsWithYou is the fine art collaborative of Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III, working collectively since 2002 with the sole purpose of spreading the positive message of Magic Luck, and Friendship™. Known for immersive installations and interactive artworks, FriendsWithYou invites viewers of their work to reconnect with and reinterpret their lives through communal experiences. The artists work in a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, large-scale experiential installations, live performances, and more recently, virtual reality and animation. Incorporating the healing arts, modern rituals, animism, and unified symbols, their works are meant to prompt a wide spectrum of untapped emotions, from playfulness to self-reflection, enabling both personal and shared experiences. FriendsWithYou’s mission is to cultivate moments of spiritual awareness and powerful, joyous interactions.

Forging their own brand of post-pop visual language a la Takashi Murakami, Arturo Herrera and Yayoi Kusama, FriendsWithYou takes a spiritual and serene approach to form and figure. Their reductive and simplified use of geometric abstraction always contains a whimsical touch. Taking Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics to heart and hand, the artists make art of the Post-Internet era. Alongside the body of works of Murakami, Jeff Koons, and Damien Hirst, FriendsWithYou is a new breed of artist, actively generating culture beyond the traditional art boundaries and reshaping the current contemporary art scene. By blurring the dividing line between perceived “high” and low” art, as explained in Murakami’s Superflat essay, FriendsWithYou utalizes other mediums like design and limited edition products from a fine art perspective. Their most important artistic tactic to foster these interpersonal relationships is the use of play. By reinterpreting religious traditions, symbols, and spiritual practices, FriendsWithYou inverts solemn and serious ideas through the act of play to open up a connection to the divine. Many FriendsWithYou works reference toys because they are meant for play, a tool for unstructured free association and interaction. Their sculptures and paintings, inflatables, and objects are meant to trigger the buried, neglected urges and yearnings that a seasoned art viewer may not expect to have activated; playfulness, laughter and inquisitiveness, with an end result of feeling connected. Influenced by the simple happiness found in everyday life, FriendsWithYou’s work is designed to be accessible to all.

Throughout the last fifteen years, FriendsWithYou has gained international recognition as pioneers in the field of experiential art. FriendsWithYou installations are fully immersive experiences that draw audiences into a magical world where the line between imagination and reality is blurred. What started as hand-sewn toy sculptures have grown into much larger than life projects and national and international exhibitions. FriendsWithYou’s work has been exhibited at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Art Basel in Miami Beach; Dallas Contemporary; Galerie Perrotin, New York; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; The High Line, New York; The Hole, New York; The Indianapolis Museum of Art; Marine Projects, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara; and most recently at the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles.

FriendsWithYou works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, The Goldman Family Collection, Montblanc Collection, amongst others.

FriendsWithYou released their Rizzoli published monograph We Are FriendsWIthYou in May 2014. The book spans their 12-year career, and features contributions by musician, producer and longtime collaborator Pharrell Williams; director, filmmaker, and spiritual guru Alejandro Jodorowsky; and Dallas Contemporary executive director Peter Dorshenko. FriendsWithYou actively works to spread the message of connectivity around the world, with a simple mission to become Friends-With-You.

What inspired you to participate in this Peanuts project?

We are very much interested in using popular and cultural relevant visual language to disseminate an optimistic and empowering world outlook. So given the opportunity to use the Peanuts language, that is so ingrained into the modern world culture, we were more than ecstatic. We think that art should be accessible to all and Sparky made a big advancement on those same grounds, he tackled very deep and emotional material in a very accessible language and we only hope we can continue to speak along those lines.

Which Peanuts character is your favorite? OR What is your favorite memory of Peanuts?

Sam: I feel Peanuts has been such a melancholic and peaceful thought in my mind. Something that goes beyond words. Specials like the Christmas Special and The Great Pumpkin are such amazing moments in my mind. But I think my favorite all time moment is Woodstock and Snoopy playing the new harp, that crazy sound, in fact all the music from Peanuts deeply affected me! I think Snoopy and Woodstock will always be a fav but Linus and Pigpen also hold a place in my heart!

Tury: I grew up in a communist country, Cuba, so every cartoon that we got to see that was from the U.S. was a huge deal. I think the first time I was introduced to the gang was with one of the Charlie Brown Christmas specials, I’m not sure the one, but it impacted me very much. I felt like the kids in the movie lived the life that we all aspired to live - a whimsical existence laced with a very much idealized version of what being an American kid was. It is kind of hard to decipher just how impactful those influences are, and how they move through my own life. I think my favorite character was Snoopy, he is just the best!

Tomokazu Matsuyama

Tomokazu Matsuyama

Tomokazu Matsuyama was born in Japan in 1976 and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He received his MFA in Communication Design from the Pratt Institute, NY. Matsuyama has exhibited at Harvard University’s Reischauer Institute in MA, the Asian American Arts Centre in NY, the Katzen Arts Center at American University Museum in Washington DC, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney, the Japan Society in NY, Hong Kong Contemporary Art in Hong Kong and among other galleries, institutions and art fairs in all over the world such as Australia, Turkey, Dubai, Luxemburg, Hong Kong and Japan. His works are in the permanent collections of Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, Bank of Sharjah in Dubai, Microsoft, The Standard Hotel, The Cosmopolitan Hotel and more. In 2014, he was awarded the Harbour City Gallery Public Art Commission in Hong Kong.

Matsuyama’s work responds to his own bi-cultural experience of growing up between Japan and America by bringing together aspects of both Eastern and Western aesthetic systems. Matsuyama is influenced by a variety of subjects, including Japanese art from the Edo and Meiji eras, classical Greek and Roman statuary, French Renaissance painting, post-war contemporary art, and the visual language of global, popular culture as embodied by mass-produced commodities.

What inspired you to participate in this Peanuts project?

How global can this project get? It's Peanuts, one of the most fun yet challenging icons to play with in making art.

Which Peanuts character is your favorite? OR What is your favorite memory of Peanuts?

Charlie Brown and Snoopy visiting Schulz studio was quite touching in Santa Rosa.

Rob Pruitt

Rob Pruitt

Rob Pruitt is an American post-conceptual artist born in 1964 in Washington, D.C. He studied at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C. and Parsons School of Design in New York. Working primarily in painting, installation, and sculpture, he does not have a single style or medium. He considers his work to be intensely personal and biographical. He is perhaps best known for his ongoing series of Pandas as well as Gradient Paintings. His work has been featured in numerous solo-exhibitions including at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit (2015), The Brant Foundation (2015), the Aspen Art Museum (2013), Dallas Contemporary (2011), Freiburg Kunstverein (2012); Le Consortium, Dijon (2002); and group exhibitions at the Yokohama Triennale, Japan (2017), as well as the Tate Modern and Punta Della Dogana/Palazzo Grassi, Venice (both 2009), and performance-based projects at the Tate Modern (2009), Guggenheim Museum, New York (2009), and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2013). Pruitt is represented by Gavin Brown’s enterprise and {MDC} Massimo De Carlo. The artist lives and works in New York City.

What inspired you to participate in this Peanuts project?

I have loved Peanuts since I was a kid. In fact, I think i taught myself how to draw by copying Peanuts characters and strips over and over, especially the details -- the grass, the snow, the wobbly line.

Which Peanuts character is your favorite? OR What is your favorite memory of Peanuts?

My favorite characters are Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown. My favorite memory is the Vince Guaraldi music from the Christmas special and my Snoopy lunchbox from 1st grade.

Kenny Scharf

Kenny Scharf

Kenny Scharf is an American painter and installation artist, born in 1958 and currently living and working in Los Angeles. He is associated with the Lowbrow movement, and best known for his visually dynamic work inspired by comic books and pop culture. Born in Los Angeles, CA, he studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and became part of the East Village art scene during the 1980s. As an artist, Scharf strives to maintain the course that he set nearly 30 years ago by establishing his work in the fields of painting, sculpture, and performance. Every project he undertakes builds on his past experiences, as his original approach, “to produce the best work possible every time,” remains unchanged. One guiding principle of his work is to reach beyond the elitist boundaries of fine art and connect to popular culture. Scharf’s personal ambition has always been to live the example. He believes the artist has a social responsibility to engage others in a thought process that ultimately brings art into everyday life, thereby enhancing the quality of daily experiences. While Scharf’s art is undeniably humorous, gritty and outlandish, it is also part of a serious discourse within art history. He has held solo exhibitions at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Monterrey in Mexico, MoMA PS1 in New York, and the Pasadena Museum of Contemporary Art, among others.

What inspired you to participate in this Peanuts project?

Peanuts love!

Which Peanuts character is your favorite? OR What is your favorite memory of Peanuts?

I think as a child I identified most with Charlie Brown, he was kind of an outcast and also my next door neighbor was just like Lucy.