BY: Anne Jones
Why am I here? What is my place in this world? We all share the same existential questions, but only a soul of an artist can translate this search into street art. This is exactly what Os Gemeos (translation; The Twins) are doing on the walls of the largest city of Brazil: Sao Paulo.
The Brazilian identical twins, Otavio e Gustavo Pandolfo, have been artistic collaborators under the single identity of – Os Gemeos – for most of their lives. That connection goes beyond their process of painting, the Brazilians twins talk about sharing dreams and having a telepathic connection with one another.
Os Gemeos were introduced to art at a young age through their family. In 1987, they began their careers making their graffiti projects using whatever materials they had available, including car paint, latex and spray nozzles.
In the late 80s, American movies like Beat Street introduced hip-hop in Brazil. Outside the cinemas where Beat Street was shown, people used to gather for rapping, hip-hop and breaking presentations. Os Gemeos loved to watch. However, it was when a friend showed them the book Subway Art that the Brazilian artists fell in love with graffiti. They were so impressed with the images they saw that they photocopied every page of the book.
In 1993, the contemporary artist Barry McGee from San Francisco came to São Paulo and took notice of the Brazilian artists´ works scattered throughout the city streets. McGee called a meeting with Os Gemeos where he shared his graffiti techniques. Their lives were never the same; it was the beginning of an ongoing cultural exchange between three artists that has spanned continents & decades.
Os Gemeos are perhaps best known for the yellow-skinned characters. These two minds flows in an artistic by using all the colors and flavors of their imagination. They believe that everything is possible; their design inspiration is derived from reflections on their inner reality. Os Gêmeos’s works present lyrical, narrative scenes with distinctive characters, often with Brazilian folk art influences.
The Brazilian artist duo Os Gemeos are used to exhibiting their work in sizeable spaces. Their signature, flat-nosed yellow characters have appeared on murals, concrete grain silos, an 800-year-old castle, and a plane. This month they take it one step further, illuminating New York City’s Times Square billboards with rotund, bobbing heads.
The work, entitled Parallel Connection, appears as part of the Times Square Arts’ Midnight Moment series. The public arts program has featured a new artist every month since 2012.
Check out Os Gemeos in their own words.
Anne Jones is a freelance writer with broad experience in reporting about fashion, lifestyle and entertainment