Who is behind Os Gêmeos?
Os Gêmeos, Portuguese for "the twins", are among the best-known Brazilian street artists. The identical twin brothers Gustavo and Otávio Pandolfo were born in São Paulo in 1974. They grew up in Cambuci, one of the oldest districts of the city. Playfully, they learned to communicate with each other and their surroundings through their drawings and decided to work together as an artist duo.
When hip-hop culture from the USA conquered Brazil in the 1980s, the Pandolfo brothers first practised break dancing under this influence before their first graffiti followed. Since they could not afford spray cans, the twins worked with brushes, wallpaper rollers and facade paints, unlike American street artists. The hip-hop movement served as a source of inspiration for their own artistic expression in public space. The city became their studio and street walls became canvases.
Os Gêmeos are strongly influenced by an encounter with Barry McGee who shared his techniques and experiences with them.
What is the dream theme in Os Gêmeos?
The Pandolfo brothers prefer to work experimentally. In doing so, they use a wide variety of colours, forms, materials and media. In addition to paintings, their portfolio also includes sculptures and musical pieces. They began to explore different techniques of painting, drawing and sculpting in the early stages of their career.
In doing so, they create their own unique world that reveals references to the human subconscious. The dream theme runs through all their works. The paintings themselves can be understood as portals to Os Gêmeo's dream world. Colourfully dressed figures with large, oval faces in yellowish tones appear in them. The twins are also guided by their dreams in their choice of colours. They do not mix the colours. They just paint away, without making sketches beforehand and without a fixed plan. The protagonists often appear in the works randomly arranged in a surrealistic architecture.
In their artworks, the artists appeal to the viewer's imagination: this is the only way to access the images.
The two artists are also known for their installation and interactive exhibitions. For example, they place musical instruments in the middle of an exhibition space and invite visitors to play them. Some of their sculptures are also open and freely accessible to the public.
Os Gêmeos in the "25 Years" exhibition at MUCA Munich
In the MUCA-25 Years" exhibition (06.10.2022 - 10.09.2023) in Munich, the Pillar People and the work "Subway" by the Pandolfo brothers were on display.
Three works by Os Gêmeos were on display in the exhibition, demonstrating the sophistication of their artistic skills. Two of Os Gêmeos' figures, which underline their talent as sculptors, emerge from the wall into three-dimensional space and provide a concrete insight into the twins' imagination.
The artwork "Subway" illustrates the lasting influence that the graffiti culture of the 1980s had on the twins. In so-called train writing, which became popular in New York in the 1980s, graffiti artists* painted their tags on the sides of trains. Os Gêmeos have taken up this theme again and again and participated in the "Whole Train" project in Brazil, among others. Here, a train was transformed into a moving work of art. Their contribution in 2017 was a tribute to Barry McGee aka Twist - who introduced Os Gêmeos to the American graffiti scene in 1993. In Subway, the depiction and colour choices are characterised by a realism that is unusual for Os Gêmeo's other works. The main figure turns his back to the viewer and has his hood pulled up, which has an autobiographical reference.
How did Os Gêmeos become internationally known?
From 2000 onwards, the brothers, together with other graffiti artists, received public commissions, initially in their native Brazil.
In 2003, Os Gêmeos had their first solo exhibition in San Francisco at the Luggage Store Gallery. Here they immortalised themselves with a large-scale mural on the building. In 2008, a total of six murals by the brothers adorned the Tate Modern in London for three months.
What do the Os Gêmeos brothers want to convey with their art?
The Pandolfo brothers' art knows no bounds and even reached the skies: in 2014, they designed the Brazilian national team's private plane with which they took part in the World Cup.
In 2015, in collaboration with the French artist friends JR in São Paulo, a mural that takes as its theme the scarcity of water in Brazil. It shows a yellow-faced figure in the typical Os Gêmeos style with a Brazilian jersey, standing in an empty bottle and desperately reaching for single drops of water falling from a tree.
For Os Gêmeos art always has a function and a goal. It should touch people emotionally and stimulate the human imagination. It should encourage (self-)reflection and encourage people to look inside themselves and discover things they don't necessarily want to see, but should see.
Outdoor project in Germany: We come at Night
In 2006, Os Gêmeos was invited to Wuppertal together with other artists from all over the world to develop joint projects for the conquest of the city's public space. This resulted in an installation in a Wuppertal park. However, this work of art was removed within four days because it had been erected without municipal permission. In the course of this trip to Wuppertal, Os Gêmeos then officially created the very special work "We come at night" in the disused Rott Tunnel for Deutsche Bahn. The motifs for this are based on themes from the Second World War. To be able to work in the tunnel, Os Gêmeos used special torches.
Os Gêmeos in Munich: Ludwigsbrücke and Werksviertel
In 2005/2006, Os Gêmeos designed Munich walls and tunnels: The Ludwigsbrücke subway was adorned with a mural by the brothers, created in collaboration with Loomit, Nina Pandolfo and Shine. Unfortunately, the work was completely destroyed in 2021 due to renovation work.
On the grounds of the former club mile Kunstpark Ost, the newly developed Werksviertel Mitte behind the Ostbahnhof, there have been murals since 2006 that were realised together with Nunca, Nina Pandolfo and Loomit.