Os Gemeos is an artist duo from São Paulo, Brazil composed of identical twin brothers Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo (born 1974) . They started painting graffiti in 1986 and gradually became a main influence in the local scene, helping to define Brazil’s own style. Their work often features yellow-skinned characters but is otherwise diverse and ranges from simple tags to complicated murals.
Breaking into the graffiti world in Brazil proved difficult with limited resources and even fewer references. Os Gemeos began by first emulating the American New York style, seen through such movies as Style Wars and Beat Street, and later consciously placing Brazilian cultural elements and influences into their work making it stand on a global scale.
“At first we were the same as the others, painting b-boys and generally staying close to the themes in hip hop culture. As time passed, naturally things changed. We never forgot the roots, but we decided to go our own way.
As for techniques, here in São Paulo things are different. We decided to use different materials (for example, latex) not only because it is more economical, but because it’s more available, it covers so well, and because it supports what we find in the streets. We always use latex for backgrounds and then outline in spray. Yellow latex and red spray paint are used just for bombing. For the big panels, we use only spray paint. We think that latex goes with our culture.
Perhaps because we had no information about graffiti in the beginning, it helped us a lot. We never watched anyone else painting. The only things that we had were some flicks and a piece of film that showed us graffiti. So we tried to discover how these things were done. We think we ended up discovering other things as a result. “(-Os Gemeos)
“It is often said that twins have a special connection, or even a language that only they understand. If this is indeed the case, Os Gemeos’s is manifested in what they refer to as “Tritrez” an imaginary place known only to them, where their playful yellow-faced characters come from.”
Os Gemeos divide their paint mode in two as they either depict simple scenes of day-to-day life stating that they, “suffer much influence from our country, our folklore and our people. We are looking for more and more roots.” Or they are lost exploring the magical dream world that lives inside them, ”Tritrez”.
“We are both part of one World: our world. We paint together always — the characters, background and letters. Sometimes, on some works we divide the piece so that one completes what the other one starts. We remember things and all of those things are materializing. Telepathy … we think maybe sometimes the silence says more.” (-Os Gemeos)
Subjects range from family portraits to commentary on São Paulo’s social and political circumstances, as well as Brazilian folklore. All are depicted using the color yellow which is founded in two reasons. One is for the sheer recognizable and stand out nature color as they enjoy the fact that in passing these works from afar and only seeing the color yellow one is still able to recognize whose work it is. Second is founded in the spiritual element that yellow offers in balancing and completing all. Their graffiti style was not only influenced by the traditional hip hop style of America but was also born out of the Brazilian pixação movement.
Pixação (translates as ‘trace’ or ‘stain’ in english) is a unique form of graffiti native to São Paulo, Brazil. It consists of tagging done in a distinctive, cryptic style, mainly on walls and vacant buildings with many of the artists apart of the movement competing to paint in high and inaccessible places, using such techniques as free climbing and rappelling down buildings to reach the locations. “Pichação is a straight-letter style of writing that goes with the urban architecture of São Paulo. It is different than the handstyle in Rio de Janeiro, where they write with curves, bending the lines.”(-Os Gemeos)
Pixação generally opposes the popularization of street art and its inclusion in galleries – believing that street art is the medium of expression for under represented youths. The Pixação artists want it to remain in the streets, reaching a mass audience and owned by no one. Some of the city’s poor youths turn to street art like pixação as a form of expression against disenfranchisement. while some use the outlet as a form of creative expression and free speech.
Pixação Gallery Attack:
MURAL / OUTDOOR INSTALLATION: I think that the first idea that pops into my mind when I think about the work of Os Gemeos is a collaborative project and I think that it could take to form of a mural, sculpture or outdoor installation.
CARICATURES: With Os Gemeos using a lot of characters within their work and often referencing people in the community, I think you could create a project having students create caricatures either of themselves or of people the students come into contact with in their community.
CREATION OF A FANTASY WORLD: When looking at the work of Os Gemeos and thinking about their creation of “Tritrez”, this could be a great introduction into a project about creating a fantasy world that resides in their minds.