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David Williams

Art duo OSGEMEOS bring Brazil and hip-hop attitude to New York

Written by
Paul Laster

Identical twin Brothers Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo exhibit together as the collaborative art duo OSGEMEOS (“the twins” in Portuguese), and they create paintings, sculptures, videos, installations and public-art projects that reflect the impact of hip-hop on their native Brazil. While their work is sometimes mistaken for street art, they’re studio artists who’ve shown internationally in galleries and museums since the late ’90s. For their new show at Lehmann Maupin gallery in Chelsea, the brothers created a series of immersive environments that combine art and music. Time Out New York met them there to discuss the inspiration behind it.

You’ve titled this show “Silence of the Music.” What does that refer to?

Otavio Pandolfo: It comes from when we started out as B-boys in São Paulo—what we experienced while break dancing. When you’re totally into it, you feel like you’re in another dimension where everything suddenly goes quiet. You no longer hear the music being played. Instead, every noise you make becomes the music; every move you make becomes the dance.

The show seems to be made up of different installations meant to flow together. Is that right?

Gustavo Pandolfo: Yes. We’ve got one space that’s like a temple, with a figure meditating in the center, and another that’s like a kid’s room with a music machine repeatedly playing the same song, differently each time. So together, these and other rooms are meant to be seen as one big history made up of many different histories.

You mentioned your start as break-dancers. When did you first discover hip-hop culture?

OP: In the ’80s. It was very surreal to us, very different from what we knew. But it also made some sort of sense because we grew up in São Paulo, which looks like New York in the ’70s. You could say it looked like New York back in the day.

You’re known for doing outdoor murals. Do you consider yourselves to be street artists or fine artists?

GP: We are just artists. If we want to paint outside, we do. If we want to paint in the studio or make animation, we do. Our work can be everywhere, because doing one thing doesn’t mean you can’t do another. We respect all of these different things.

Besides hip-hop, how does Brazil itself figure into your work?

OP: It’s everywhere. We reference the music, the food, the clothing, the climate, the people, the colors, the vibe. We are Brazilians; we were born there and we live there.

If we could look inside your heads, what would we see?

GP: It’d be like seeing a movie. Every single thing we make is like pressing the pause button on a video player. In our heads, it’s all the same movie.

OSGEMEOS’s, “Silence of the Music” is at Lehmann Maupin Through 22.

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