Os Gêmeos - Latin America New York Monday, November 24, 2014 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Prism Gallery, Los Angeles
    Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    “That’s probably the best part of it all; giving people the opportunity to enter into a parallel universe and, for a moment, forget about their problems, their worries, their responsibilities; letting them dream and live the experience." OS GÊMEOS

    Brazilian born identical twins, Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo, known as Os Gêmeos come from a very traditional district of São Paulo called Cambuci. Their home town is one of their main inspirations, where they literally use the streets — both exterior and interior walls — to resonate their cross-cultural exchanges and experiences. They are considered the leaders of Brazilian urban art and are especially known for their graffiti art. However, what distinguishes them from other graffiti artists is that, even though they recognize the inherent differences between working on murals in the streets and working with traditional gallery mediums such as canvas painting, they do not distinguish between art and graffiti in their work. As a matter of fact, an encounter with a seminal graffiti artist Barry McGee, one of the first graffiti artists to embrace figurative art, marked a pivotal moment in their career. They not only quit their jobs and became full-time artists, but also introduced figurative painting into their graffiti and started painting natural landscapes.

    Another innovative aspect of their work is that their striking colors fuse rural folk traditions and popular culture. They also reject the minimalist object-based trend that has dominated the contemporary Brazilian world through artists like Ernesto Neto and Rivane Neueschwander. In contrast, Os Gêmeos reflect a constant urge for experimentation, using the street as a platform for their artistic output. The urge for improvisation is due in part to the extreme social conditions of Brazil that require people to become incredibly resourceful in order to survive. Os Gêmeos came from the pre-Internet days when exposure to the international visual trends of the 1980s, in particular hip hop and graffiti in New York, was very difficult to come by. They only had access to poor quality aerosols, and thus, they had to improvise. In 1986, they began to use latex house paint to fill the background of their landscape paintings to reduce their budget, while using spray paint for the outlines. McGee gave them a solid grounding in graffiti so Os Gêmeos were able to consolidate their style, ensure a presence in the Brazilian community of urban art, and present their art in prominent locations, which are all fundamental criteria in graffiti art.

    Brazil’s complex, racially diverse population and unique social economic situation is constantly portrayed throughout the work of Os Gêmeos, but their works project a more optimistic view whereby Brazil’s diversity is “establishing rather than threatening the nation’s unity and identity.” Works such as the present lot are imbued with this notion, blending rural folk traditions with contemporary Brazilian cultures. Executed in 2011, Untitled depicts a delicate balancing act of figures that are both physically and metaphorically connected, creating a chain of life. Man and beast live in harmony while natural elements are fused with objects from the man-made world, such as a surfboard that contains an ocean, fully equipped with island, lighthouse and cascading water. The figures, painted using the artists’ signature yellow hue, populate a joyful, psychedelic landscape that is instantly attributable to Os Gêmeos.

    For most graffiti artists, although they paint in public, their artistic production “is a private competition among an inner circle.” Yet Os Gêmeos, despite being part of the international graffiti scene, do not compete against their peers; instead they paint for the community, using art to construct a social commentary about inequity with the objective of creating hope.

  • Artist Biography

    Os Gêmeos

    Brazilian • 1974

    Born Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo, Os Gêmeos ('The Twins') are graffiti artists from São Paulo whose style is influenced by both Brazilian tradition and hip hop culture. Their work often features yellow-skinned figures but is otherwise diverse, ranging from interpretations of Brazilian folklore to social and political commentary. With the advent of American hip hop culture in Brazil in the late 1980s, the identical twins became interested in breakdancing. This led them to begin emulating New York graffiti art they had seen in photos before starting to consciously incorporate elements of Brazilian culture into their art and develop their own style. Their creative output graces walls across the world, from Scotland to Los Angeles, and also includes sculptures and installations.

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acrylic, spray paint and rhinestones on canvas, in artist's painted wood frame
78 1/2 x 117 1/2 in. (199.4 x 298.5 cm.)
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Prism Gallery.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $269,000

Contact Specialist
Laura González
Director of Latin American Art
New York
+1 212 940 1216

Latin America

New York Auction 24 November 2014 2pm