March 27, 2023

OS Gemeos / ICA Boston

A new exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, also the first solo U.S. museum exhibition of Brazilian street artists Os Gêmeos.

One of my all time favorite forces in both graffiti and fine art is showing this summer at the Institute of Contemporary art in Boston. What’s even better? The ICA is throwing a Brazilian block party on August third with food and music in celebration of the opening! Got my tickets already.

(BOSTON – April 25, 2012) This August, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston opens the first solo U.S. museum exhibition of Brazilian artists Os Gêmeos. Born Otávio and Gustavo Pandolfo, Os Gêmeos (“the twins” in Portuguese) are a major force in graffiti and urban art. They first came to public attention with large-scale works created on the streets of their native São Paulo, a city whose social dynamics and vast urban landscape have greatly influenced the artists’ aesthetic. The exhibition highlights the recurring themes in Os Gêmeos’s work—from hip hop to Brazilian folklore—and immerses viewers in a dream-like environment of explosive color, surreal landscapes, and yellow-colored characters. Organized by ICA Adjunct Curator Pedro Alonzo, the exhibition features approximately 20 works— including painting, sculpture, and a new public mural that the artists will create in conjunction with the opening of the exhibition. Os Gêmeos is on view at the ICA from Aug. 1 through Nov. 25, 2012.

Os Gêmeos date their artistic beginnings to 1987 when hip-hop invaded Brazil. The music and images of youth dancing and painting graffiti, transmitted via photo books and films, left an indelible mark on the twins. But in the late 1980s, limited access to art-making materials—Brazilian spray paint was expensive and inferior in quality—forced the artists to improvise and create their own visual style. They began painting New York graffiti–style murals with house paint, brushes, and rollers instead of spray paint.

The twins share a deep bond and artistic vision; they divide their painting mode in two, painting together, and starting and finishing each other’s works. Os Gêmeos draw greatly from their surroundings, and their narrative work is a visual synthesis of their everyday lives: the color and chaos of Brazil, particularly in the Cambuci neighborhood of São Paulo—or portraits of youth in red hoodies breaking into train yards and painting in subway tunnels. A common motif depicts several graffiti taggers garbed in brightly patterned clothes stacked atop one another to reach an impossibly high spot. In addition to contemporary urban themes, rural Brazil has an equally significant presence in their work. Carnivals, music, and folk art fascinate the twins and inspire fantastical paintings of musicians, processions and festivals—all of which are based on their own photographs.

Otávio and Gustavo Pandolfo, known as Os Gêmeos, were born in 1974 in São Paulo, Brazil, where they continue to live and work. In addition to their street art, they have been commissioned to create several public projects including the painting of trains and subways in São Paulo and Porto Alegre, Brazil. Their work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture, one of the most notable exhibitions of street and underground youth culture.



ALPH was once suspended in third grade for drawing on the walls in art class. Not much has changed.

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