Os Gemeos /   Otávio and Gustavo Pandolfo

Brazil 1974

Urban Art


Os Gemeos
Otávio and Gustavo Pandolfo
January 10, 2014
Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

The narrative about special kind of bond between the twins in the work of Os Gemeos represents the base for expressing different layers of creativity and imagination. Namely, behind this name are Otávio and Gustavo Pandolfo, twin brothers who share almost the same pain, joy, and even dreams. Since the artists were both dazzled by the continuous motif in their dreams – a golden hue, they decided to use it in their work. That is how the yellow-faced characters became a leitmotif respectively their trademark. The surreal murals, they became known for, are reflecting their strong belief that street art should beautify the urban environment and has its important social role.

osgemeos brothers were in contact with various hip hop people from their neighborhood during their beginnings
Os Gemeos – Artwork – image via jenniferbruni

The Artistic Breakthrough

Otávio and Gustavo Pandolfo or Os Gemeos were born in São Paulo in 1974. Although it may seem banal, they have worked together since birth. As children growing up in the streets of the traditional district, they have developed a distinct way of playing and communicating through artistic language. Their family fully supported and encouraged their interest in art and the twins found their way through then burgeoning hip hop culture in Brazil in the late 1980s. Os Gemeos found a direct connection to their dynamic and magical world and a way to communicate with the public.

Peculiar approach to coloring and figuration

The work of os gêmeos has been acclaimed and they are the best known Brazilian graffiti artists
Os Gemeos – Artwork – image via pinterest

Drawn by The Subculture

The twins started out as break dancers and got involved with the graffiti aspect later on. Naturally, their first graffiti steps world attempted to emulate American hip hop pieces, in early New York style. Nevertheless, as the style progressed they have consciously started inserting Brazilian cultural elements and influences into their work. Slowly but surely Os Gemeos began to gain large recognition in the underground urban scene and as their influence spread across the graffiti urban community, they began to help define Brazil’s very own unique style. Stylistically, the artist duo is heavily influenced by the cryptic art of the São Paulo-based pixação graffiti movement as well as American hip-hop, while the subjects range from family portraits to commentary on local social and political circumstances, as well as Brazilian folklore.

Os Gemeos means One world, one voice

The meaning of phrase osgemeos suggests conjoinment of the two which become one world one mind
Os Gemeos – Artwork – image via pinterest

Os Gemeos Taking Over The World

Barry McGee helped influence Os Gemeos’ street art and their lives were never been the same after their encounter. During this encounter, McGee shared graffiti techniques and other experience. Soon after, 12oz Prophet Magazine creates an interview on them and Os Gemeos’ fame began to rise. This was the first time their work began to hit audiences outside of South America. Their first solo exhibition in the United States was at The Luggage Store in San Francisco, California in 2003. Two years later, as part of the Dreamland Artist Club project, they painted a 130 foot mural in Coney Island on Stillwell Ave.

The twins transform walls in magical and lively backdrops

Os Gemeos - Vilnius Street Art Festival, 2015 - image via pinterest
Os Gemeos – Vilnius Street Art Festival, 2015 – image via pinterest

Improvisation and a Sense of Playfulness in the work of Os Gemeos

Their colorful images adorn buildings in cities including Berlin, Lisbon, New York, Moscow, Athens, Krakow, and in their native Brazil they’ve even painted whole trains—after successfully persuading the authorities to let them do it. Having in mind that Subway systems and trains are often an object of pride in Brazilian cities, and therefore especially well guarded, they were never on top of the list of graffiti canvases (in sharp contrast with graffiti in other countries). But as of the early 2000s, Os Gêmeos were invited to paint the trains legally.

Sometimes they express their ideas through other media

Os Gemeos - Artwork - image via arrestedmotion
Os Gemeos – Artwork – image via arrestedmotion

Painting the Brasilian Soccer Team’s Boing 737

In 2014, the Brazilian graffiti artists partnered up with GOL Airlines to paint a gargantuan mural on the fuselage of a Boeing 737 that would be used to carry Brazil’s team during the World Cup. The plain depicts dozens of portraits, meant to represent the people of the Brazilian culture, rendered in artists’ signature style: elongated faces, quirky outfits, colorful skin and animated expressions. From the tail to nose and the engines, the jet’s technological details and equipment are covered in the vibrant design, wrapping around the massive structure. With an airplane hangar as an art studio, the duo completed the plane piece throughout a week-long process, using about 1200 cans of spray.

Their signature vibrant yellow coincided with the same color of the Brazilian team

Os Gemeos - Artwork on Boing 373 - image via airlinestravel
Os Gemeos – Artwork on Boing 373 – image via airlinestravel

The Giants at the Vancouver Biennale

That same year, Os Gemeos were invited to the Vancouver Biennale to turn six multi-story silos on Granville Island into their trademark Giants. The murals are now the largest paintings ever made by Os Gemeos. Six vividly colored 70 foot (23 meters) tall characters are depicted meaning that six silos are wrapped all the way around, giving it a total area of 23,500 square feet (7,200 sq meters). These cartoonish giants are also a part of Os Gemeos’ on-going Giants mural project, parts of which have already brought life and color to many other major cities around the world.

Os Gemeos are known for large scaled public commissioned works

Os Gemeos - Giants - image via animalnewyork
Os Gemeos – Giants – image via animalnewyork

Latest Projects of The Twins

Within Italian project Outside the Cube, dedicated to Street Art and other forms of art connected to the urban and public contexts, Os Gemeos realized their first major mural titled Efêmero. By drawing the inspiration from the history of the local site, where train locomotives were built during the twentieth century, this work recreates the silhouette of a city train on a monumental scale. The latest solo exhibition Silence of the Music at Lehmann Maupin gallery in New York was conceived as a site-specific, where each of the five rooms had a unique selection of paintings and objects covering the walls, from the floor to the ceiling.

The most famous graffiti artists from Brazil

Os Gemeos - Silence of the music, 2016, Installation view - image via desginboom
Os Gemeos – Silence of the music, 2016, Installation view – image via desginboom

The Domains of Os Gemeos Urban Practice

Throughout the years, guided mainly by their intuition, Os Gemeos explored with dedication and care various techniques of painting, drawing, and sculpture, and had the street as their studio. They are today recognized and admired both nationally and internationally, the artists utilize this combined visual language, improvisation and a sense of playfulness to intuitively create a variety of projects worldwide. Through the last decade or so, they have gained international fame, displaying their work in exhibitions in Cuba, major cities in the U.S. and Europe, as well as numerous shows in their hometown of São Paulo and throughout Latin America.

Os Gemeos live in São Paolo, Brazil.

Featured image: Portrait of Os Gemeos – image courtesy of Arrested Motion
All images are used for illustrative purposes only

YearName of the exhibitionMuseum/GallerySolo/Group
2016They Would Be Kings by Steve LazaridesHong KongGroup
2015Os GemeosLehmann Maupin Solo
2014Beyond melancholia Sammlung ReinkingMuseum für Völkerkunde, HambourgGroup
2014 A Ópera Da Lua Galeria Fortes Vilaça, São PauloSolo
2013Urbane Folklore! Kunstraum Innsbruck, InnsbruckGroup
2012Os Gêmeos ICA - Institute of Contemporary ArtBoston, Boston, MASolo
2012Os Gemeos, Miss You -Prism, West Hollywood, CASolo
2011In The Moment: Benefit Art Sale & Auction The Luggage Store, San Francisco, CAGroup
2011Kaunas Biennial TEXTILE 11 - REWIND-PLAY-FORWARD Kaunas Art Biennial, KaunasGroup
2011“West End Rebellion” Scream London, London (England)Group
2011Kindergarten Galleria Civica di Modena, ModenaGroup
2011Gigante por la propia naturaleza IVAM - Institut Valencià d'Art Modern, ValenciaGroup
2011Art in the Streets - The Geffen Contemporary MOCA, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2011Wilde Zeichen forum frohner, KremsGroup
2010Pra quem mora lá, o céu é lá Berardo Museum - Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, LisbonSolo
2010Nos braos de um anjo Galleria Patricia Armocida, MilanSolo
2010Law Of The Jungle Lehmann Maupin, New York City, NYGroup
2010FAME Festival 2010 FAME Festival, Grottaglie (TA)Group
2010Come As You Are Prism, West Hollywood, CAGroup
2010Viva la Revolucion: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego - MCASD Downtown, San Diego, CAGroup
2010Rotkäppchen lackiert den Wolf FMDK - Freie Münchner und Deutsche Künstlerschaft e.V., MunichGroup
2010The Franks-Suss Collection Phillips de Pury & Company at The Saatchi Gallery, LondonGroup
2009Vertigem Museu de Arte Brasileira da FAAP - Fundaçao Armando Alvares Penteado, São PauloGroup
2009FranksSuss Collection , London (England)Group
2009Urban Art - Werke aus der Sammlung Reinking Museum für moderne Kunst, BremenGroup
2009Nudes Galeria Fortes Vilaça, São PauloGroup
2009When Lives Become Form Creative Power From Brazil Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, HiroshimaGroup
2008Vertigem OSGEMEOS Museu Oscar Niemeyer, CuritibaSolo
2008Os Gemeos - SONHEI QUE TINHA SONHADO Parra & Romero, MadridSolo
2008When Lives Become Form Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT), TokyoGroup
2008In the Land of Retinal Delights: The Juxtapoz Factor Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CAGroup
2008Call it what you like - Collection Rik Reinking Kunst Centret Silkeborg Bad, SilkeborgGroup
2008Street Art Tate Modern, London (England)Group
2008LatinoLatino Palazzo della Vicaria, TrapaniGroup
2008Os GemeosDeitch Project Gallery, New York, USASolo
2008Os GemeosMuseu Oscar Niemeyer, Curitiba, BrasilSolo
2008Imaginary RealitiesMax Wigram Gallery, London, UKGroup
2007Os Gemeos Museum het Domein, SittardSolo
2007Os Gemeos -Galleria Patricia Armocida, MilanSolo
2007osgemeos - Desenho Galeria Fortes Vilaça, São PauloSolo
2007Wakin up nights de Pury & Luxembourg, ZurichGroup
2007Mundo AnimalEscola São Paulo, São Paulo, BrasilGroup
2007Group showMusée International des Arts Modestes (MIAM), Sète, FranceGroup
2006Os Gemeos - O peixe que comia estrelas cadentes Galeria Fortes Vilaça, São PauloSolo
2006Spank the Monkey BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (England)Group
2006Beautiful Losers Circleculture Gallery - Berlin, BerlinGroup
20069o Bienal de la HavanaHavana, CubaGroup
2006Paralela 2006Parque do Ibirapuera, São Paulo, BrasilGroup
2006Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street CultureTriennale di Milano, Milan, ItalyGroup
2005Cavaleiro Marginal - - Deitch Projects 76 Grand Street, New York City, NY Solo
2005Weird Walls Museum het Domein, SittardGroup
200525 Bold Moves House of Campari, New York City, NYGroup
2005Creative Time ProjectConney Island, USASolo
2005Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street CultureMuseum of Art, Newport Beach, USAGroup
2005The Smell of the rain, Deitch Project Miami Art Basel, Miami, USAGroup
2004Os GemeosEstação da Luz, São Paulo, BrasilSolo
2004Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street CultureContemporary Arts Center in CincinnatiGroup
2004Group ShowYerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, USAGroup
2003Pavil – Osgemeos The Luggage Store, San Francisco, CASolo
2003Break,New Image Gallery, Los Angeles, USAGroup
2002Group ShowArea2010, Sydney, AustraliaGroup
2002Chromopolis, paneling Athens Olympic Games, Athens, GreeceGroup
2002Global Grafitti ArtAnne Moerchen Galerie, Hamburg, GermanyGroup
2002I don ´t knowDie Faerberei Galerie, MunichGroup
2002Group ShowSchlachthof Cultural Center, Wiesbaden, GermanyGroup
2002Group ShowUrban Dicipline, Hamburg, GermanyGroup
200150 anos de Bienal de São PauloFundação Bienal, São Paulo, BrasilGroup
2001Group ShowGalerie du Jour Agnes B, Paris, FranceGroup
2001Group ShowMural Global, São Paulo, BrasilGroup
2001Group ShowTokion Store, New York, USAGroup
2001Urban Discipline 2001Hamburg, GermanyGroup
2000Graffiti aus São Paulo BrasilienDie Färberei, Munich, GermanyGroup
2000Just write my nameBremen, GermanyGroup
2000Group ShowAcademie der Kunste, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2000Agenda 21 projectHildeshein, GermanyGroup
2000Group ShowGalerie Ecureuil, Niort, FranceGroup
2000Urban DiscplineHamburg, GermanyGroup
1999Livin LargeMunich, GermanyGroup
1999Group ShowISART, Munich, GermanyGroup
1998Um minuto de silêncioFUNARTE, São Paulo, BrasilGroup
1998Group Show Galeria MIS, SãoPaulo, BrasilGroup