By Nick Wilson
A street art exhibit featuring Portuguese twins who alternate between playful depictions of rural traditions and critiques of social inequity, the Institute of Contemporary Art’s Os Gêmeos seems custom made for Kennedy School students. Need further proof? It’s free for Harvard students.
The first US solo museum exhibition of the São Paulo twin brothers Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo runs through Nov. 25 and is well worth the T ride to Boston’s waterfront. As with all great graffiti success stories, the twins’ tale begins during the explosion of hip-hop in mid-1980s New York City.
Inspired but lacking affordable spray paint and concrete knowledge of how the New Yorkers did it, Os Gêmeos were forced to pave their own path. Armed with paint rollers and latex paint pigment, the twins developed a signature style featuring yellow-tinged characters and surrealist scenes. While they are known for their large-scale murals celebrated around the world, their paintings that incorporate household objects and wood sculptures are among the most moving in this exhibition.
On the third Saturday of each month, local musicians will bring the sonic sculpture Os Musicos to life. A Brazilian or hip-hop soundtrack would be a welcome addition the rest of the time, but I suppose it may interfere with the enjoyment of the free audio guide.
After you exit the small one-room show and relish the breathtaking views of the expansive waterfront on your four-story descent, your surrealist street art journey is far from over. Armed with newly acquired insight and perspective, it’s time to find the twins’ murals around town. Start at the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway at Dewey Square, where you’ll find a controversial but awe-inspiring 70-ft mural on a Big Dig ventilation building. Then make your way to Stuart Street’s Revere Hotel before completing your journey at Webster Street in Somerville’s Union Square.
The cross-town journey will be rewarded with the chance to experience the artists’ talents the way it was originally appreciated: on the streets and on a massive-scale.
Nick Wilson is an MPP1 who writes about food, drink and culture at TreasureMA.com.