Their trademark yellow characters grace the walls around the world, the Dreamland Artist Club in Coney Island, a Boeing 737 belonging to GOL Airlines, the silos of the Vancouver Biennale, to name just a few. They are known as Os Gemeos, Portuguese for “the twins”, which is exactly what they are too.
The graffiti and murals of Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo origin in the hip hop culture that reached Brazil and their hometown of Sao Paulo in the 1980s, when the brothers started off as breakdancers and subsequently got involved in street art. Today, their art is a proud representative of their country’s culture and tradition, as colorful, patterned and history-bearing as it can get. It was heavily influenced by the Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo-based pixação graffiti movement, which consists of cryptic tags usually done on abandoned buildings. Many of their figurines are based on their own experiences or family members.
Os Gemeos also made many works on canvas throughout their career, just as mesmerizing as their wall murals when it comes to in quality and theme. To date, a total of 64 of their artworks were sold at art auctions, for a sum of $3,780,099. Their most successful year was 2014, with twelve successful sales, although on this list of their most expensive six-figure artworks, they are mostly paintings from the mid-2000s. Among them, there are canvases, mixed media on wood and glass and panel, as well as an installation made of plexiglass, mirror, wood and spray paint. The sell-through rate of their art is over 72%, so if you’re a fan of their intriguing cartoonish world, we highly recommend it!
For all Os Gemeos artworks at auctions, click here, and to check out their most expensive pieces, scroll down!
The surrealist imagery of Os Gemeos relies on a bright yellow hue of his characters, and in Electronic Eyes we see two primary ones - one in form of a musician, the other in form of a robot. As always, the head is much bigger than the very thin rest of the body, emerging from its vividly painted clothes. The facial expression of the musician matches the one painted on his drum and drumsticks. Its girl companion is much more serene, as if she’s celebrating life, in an energetic and animated environment a la Os Gemeos.
Electronic Eyes sold for $100,000 at Phillips in 2012.
Sold for $100,854 at Phillips in 2013, The House of Maria is part of the works executed on wooden doors. What’s particular about all the art pieces by Os Gemeos is that they never do anything twice, but they always try out something new and look for new possibilities of expression.
In The House of Maria, we see a young girl standing outside what appears to be her house, with another female character behind the window observing. Her dress is deeply traditional, with flower patterns, and her feet are bare. The scene is very possibly taken from their own neighborhood in Sao Paulo, Cambuci, like many of their other paintings.
To accompany their 2000 work O Homem que pescon a Sereia de Labelos de ouro, Os Gemeos wrote this:
Brazil is a hot-blooded country where, as they say, 'one doesn’t need much to be happy.' In keeping with this way of life, we learned to improvise: a serious problem can turn into a joke, jokes can turn into problems. Ours is a country in which people have learned to do much with very little. To improvise is the best way to make art.
The mixed media on wood panel sold for $103,506, only 7% less than its high estimate, at Phillips in 2014.
Os Gemeos’ is an oeuvre dedicated to the people of Brazil, its folklore, cosmopolitan lives, rural traditions and landscape. They present their country to the world showing all its sides, through an open color palette and a sense of psychedelia.
Such is Landscape as well. Based on a background of prismatic luminosity, the central character sails by boat across the sea of bobbing brown and yellow heads and monotonous faces, all the same yet all different. Could it be that he is looking for his own? Landscape achieved $110,000 at Phillips in New York in 2013.
Featuring their signature yellow character, the work O Diam em que a Primavera Virou Outono (The Day Spring Became Fall) is executed in a combination of greens, yellows and browns which signifies the transition of the seasons. This unique aesthetic is heavily influenced by the São Paulo-based pixação graffiti movement.
The work was sold on October 27th, 2015 at Artcurial (Briest, Poulain, F. Tajan) Paris for $165,500.
More data on the work here.
In Serenade from 2008, we see two men wearing head-shaped hats and playing musical instruments against a rural backdrop and a night sky filled with what appear to be fireworks. They are in the midst of a celebration under the open sky, depicted in vibrant palette and exaggerated figures. In the background, there is a giant head on top of a pickup truck.
This truck was later recreated by Os Gemeos - literally. They made a wooden version of the enormous head and laid it on the chassis of a Volkswagen Beetle, in another artwork entitled Sem Titulo (Untitled). These guys sure know how to have fun with their own art.
Priced at $120,000 at Phillips in New York in 2014, I Don’t Care is a sculptural work by Os Gemeos. It represents a portrait of a street artist wearing an intricately patterned red hoodie, seen from behind, with a spray can in his hand and the middle finger “in” the other. Looks like he was just about to paint, but we caught him, and he is definitely not happy about it.
The viewers become an integral part of this tense scene, this homage to their own craftsmanship. Street artists are just one of the professions that the brothers often depict, others being musicians, families, bandits, children, people they know and places they love.
With a concentrated glare, a young woman is staring at the viewer, immersed in a yellow background (which Os Gemeos once said was the color of their dreams), holding a maquette of a house and having a dog curled up at her feet. Perhaps she too needs a shelter like the dog, which is why she is holding a house in her hands, as a symbol of something lost, or something sought after. Her gorgeous red outfit gives out exquisite detail, standing out.
Sold for $120,000 in 2013, the work is a fine example of the complexity of the artists’ personal symbolism and mythology.
In the art of Os Gemeos, an animal we often see is a fish, whether forming a mermaid or biting someone’s head off. Well, not really. But it does often stand on their characters’ head, like in the case of Mirror Mask, a 2010 mixed media which sold for $120,092 at Phillips in 2014.
Again, we have a staring girl, who doesn’t seem to mind the visitor on top of her head, or the psychedelic pink background filled with colorful circles. The canvas was painted exclusively for the New Image Art pop-up show in Miami. I guess you’re free to interpret it as you like, and the interpretations could be many.
The work It Is Supposed To Be Raining But..... offers a lyrical, narrative scene with distinctive yellow-skinned characters, executed in a style influenced by Brazilian folk art influences.
The work was sold on June 26th, 2018 at Phillips London during their 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale for $106,307.
An acrylic and mixed media on wood, Amigo features the duo's signature yellow figure in a self-made fantasy world called “Tritez.” As each of their works, the canvas features a range of details which are important components in creating their fantasy world, full of everyday stories in the form of poetry.
The work was sold on November 19th, 2015 at Sotheby's New York during their auction Latin America: Modern Art for $130,000.
And the absolute winner among the Os Gemeos artworks at auctions is their 2011 Untitled painting, which went for $220,000 in 2014!
Perhaps the best example of the artists’ vision of the Brazilian diverse society and a unique socio-economic situation, the work unites distinctive characters, connected among each other both physically and metaphorically. In their surreal world straight from a sci-fi movie, the man and the beast live in harmony, among curious objects such as the lighthouse, cascading water, a crown, a sun balloon, a nude lady (eaten by a fish!) and so on. It made me think of the messy photographs by David LaChapelle, where one does not have much of an idea of what is happening, but it doesn’t really matter in the end. It’s fun to look at, and it is perfectly executed - enough said.