L’Enfant: creativity and being naïve.

Interview with L'enfant - André do Santos

The first thing that strikes you about André dos Santos is how little he resembles the staunch, turgid figure of an establishment artist. Sitting in a room filled with diverse and beautiful artworks, there is little resemblance between him and the stereotypes of creativity that render the creative a chore. Having recently moved back to Berlin after spending some years in London, L’Enfant has returned to the country he grew up in, after moving from his native Portugal at an early age. But regardless of the challenges of Brexit and COVID which have made a life for so many of us, both inside and outside of the artistic community, more of an ordeal than it ought to be, André is always creating.

“It’s all about freedom. It always returns to freedom.”

Dos Santos spent much of his life living in a family home where the formulaic and authoritative were the norm. He tells me that so much of his life was procedural, yet he was always running away with it. Talking to him it seems like possibilities are open to him in a way that they are simply not for others. The world shows up as a playground, and endless experimentation is the status quo, rather than something he must step into. I mention to him the famous Picasso adage – that it takes longer to learn how to be a child than how to learn one artistic technique or another. It is so hard to claw back naivety once you’ve lost it. “That’s why my style in painting is all so childlike. It’s extremely important to me not to kill your inner child.”

AFREEKWUH, L'enfant, Cover Art for Afriqua, 2020

The list of works attributed to L’Enfant is endless: he works across categories, on multiple pieces at a time, tackling artistic projects from every direction. For one-piece, he discovered objet trouvé style a pair of jeans on the city streets. Using his experience in sewing, he meticulously picked apart the jeans and fashioned them into a dress, styling them on a model before doing a video shoot. From start to finish, every aspect – from the couture to the careful crafting of the aesthetic to the camerawork and editing – was done by his own hand. Although he sometimes collaborates on projects like this, the breadth of his practice is something he prides himself on. “I’m always challenging the boundaries of the human mind, seeing how far I can go. I want to push myself, find the limits of my brain. I can’t be happy otherwise.”