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OSGEMEOS: Silence of the Music

Lehmann Maupin - New York

By Taliesin Thomas

I first saw the art of OSGEMEOS (Portuguese for ‘the twins’) while riding a rambling tourist bus down a far-flung street in Lisbon-a mural in a quiet neighborhood outside the city center. It was an oversized, mischievous figure that stretched across the side of an old brick building. That audacious, unexpected character solicited an instant smile. OSGEMEOS continue to delight international audiences with their funky bravura and allegorical mash-up of graffiti painting, mixed-media sculpture, and kinetic installation in a fantastical show at Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York, “OSGEMEOS: Silence of the Music.”

During the last two decades, Brazilian twin Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo (b. 1974, São Paulo)- known as OSGEMEOS-have risen to global recognition among graffiti artists and art-world cognoscenti alike. During the 1980s, the brothers were introduced to street culture, hip-hop, and breakdancing. They met fellow street artist Barry McGee while he was studying abroad in their native city; McGee shared photographs of the American graffiti scene with the twins and the OSGEMEOS imagination was ignited by a new understanding of global graffiti art. Underhanded social-political commentary emerged in their work over time, combined with boisterous elements of Brazilian folklore. Nowadays their unrivaled mixture of aesthetic elements brings to life a free-spirited visual vocabulary that transcends graffiti while remaining firmly rooted in the culture of street art.

“OSGEMEOS: Silence of the Music,” installation view, Lehmann Maupin, New York. Courtesy the artists and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong. Photo: Max Yawney.

“OSGEMEOS: Silence of the Music,” installation view, Lehmann Maupin, New York. Courtesy the artists and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong. Photo: Max Yawney.

The environment created by OSGEMEOS for the Lehmann Maupin space is a bona fide carnival of positive vibrations and exploding exultation. The brothers worked for a month in advance of the show to transform the locale into a whimsical OSGEMEOS-land. The entire gallery is filled with magical scenes of merriment from floor to ceiling, each room adorned with contributions from the OSGEMEOS family-painted works and animated sculptures by the twins, as well as sketches and doodles by the duo’s younger sister and hand-woven portraits by their mother.

Turn another corner, and you’ll see how “Silence of the Music” distills unique moments out of a larger cultural spectacle. The “B-Boy” room, for example, features photos of break-dancers from around the world juxtaposed with old-school album covers and embedded boom-boxes that carry audio beats throughout the gallery. Familiar yellow-skinned characters dance about swinging instruments, calmly posing for snapshots with their children by the sea. Demure figures appear caught up in a private fairytale while others frolic across canvases nestled within kaleidoscopic wood patterns. In yet another room, a life-size barefoot boy spins atop a dais-the perfect place to view a celestial sky and sculptural sliver of moon and then rotate around to witness a raging ocean that gradually fades into a stretch of serene coast, complete with magical beached whale. The world of OSGEMEOS breathes with poetic charm and dreamlike joy.

The experiential, multi-sensory, immersive experience of “OSGEMEOS: Silence of the Music” demonstrates a commitment to celebrating the inspired re-configuration of everyday life. Through irony, improvisation, attention to cultural rhythms, and a noisy fiesta-like energy, the installation magnifies a lyrical love of life and transcultural revelry.

(September 8 - October 22, 2016)

Taliesin Thomas is a Brooklyn-based artist-philosopher, writer, and lecturer who has worked in the field of contemporary Chinese art since 2001 after living two years in rural China. Thomas holds and M.A. in East Asian Studies from Columbia University and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Art Theory & Philosophy with the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts. She is the founding director of AW Asia in New York.

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