Hirshhorn Presents First US Museum Survey of Brazilian Graffiti

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The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden will present the first U.S. museum survey and largest U.S. exhibition of work by identical twin brothers Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo, known globally as OSGEMEOS—Portuguese for “the twins.” Opening May 18, 2024, the yearlong, full-floor presentation will bring together approximately 1,000 artworks, photographs and archival materials to highlight the trajectory of their collaborative, multidisciplinary practice, including the roots of their fantastical artistic language inspired by their upbringing in urban Brazil. “OSGEMEOS: Endless Story” spotlights the artists’ playful combination of universal themes with magical elements drawn from their heritage, urban art and graffiti traditions, and shared imagination.

“We are inspired to collaborate with OSGEMEOS to share their multigenre practice that, by dissolving art-world hierarchies, defines what it means to be an artist in the 21st century,” said Melissa Chiu, Hirshhorn director. “Since childhood, OSGEMEOS have adapted graffiti traditions to create an increasingly complex and immersive studio practice rooted in their brotherhood: one thought process shared between two people for more than 40 years.”

Featuring large-scale paintings on wood and canvas, monumental sculptures and room-sized installations that incorporate light, movement and music, “Endless Story” will fill the Hirshhorn’s sweeping third-floor galleries. To highlight OSGEMEOS’ interest in fusing the real with the fantastic, dreamlike worlds will be placed centrally, including “The Moon Room” (2022), built specifically for exhibition spaces and featuring sound, colorful architecture and custom wallpaper. The presentation also will include scores of rarely seen drawings illuminating the growth of their creative practice, from the walls of their childhood home to freeways and building façades to global galleries, alongside documentation of their outdoor graffiti and murals.

“We are delighted to accept the invitation to fill the Hirshhorn’s circular galleries with our story and hope to inspire a new generation to share their own stories,” OSGEMEOS said. “‘Endless Story’ will trace our trajectory from childhood across different media. The survey will explore how we developed our visual style, highlight our influences and present the diversity of language. We’re very happy to showcase this work in our first retrospective exhibition at a museum in the United States.”

“Endless Story” frames OSGEMEOS’ origin story in São Paulo with rarely seen early sketches and introduces Tritrez, a mystical universe the artists invented as children and continue to populate with their colorful imaginings and signature large-headed figures. Sources of inspiration, such as their mother’s embroidery, American hip-hop, breakdancing and graffiti, life, nature and dreams, sci-fi and the supernatural, as well as music, feature throughout the galleries. Many works have never been shown outside Brazil, including “The Tritrez Altar” (2020), a vast rainbow-colored structure housing sculptures of OSGEMEOS’ trademark characters. Other highlights include a colossal handmade zoetrope devised in 2014 that, when activated, animates OSGEMEOS’ world in the spirit of pre-cinema days. In addition, more than 30 paintings from lenders across the U.S. demonstrate the breadth of the artists’ practice.

“OSGEMEOS: Endless Story” is curated by Marina Isgro, associate curator of media and performance art at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, with the support of Curatorial Assistant CJ Greenhill Caldera.

The exhibition will be accompanied by the first major English-language monograph of OSGEMEOS’ work, co-published by Rizzoli in April 2024. The fully illustrated 344-page catalog will feature nearly 350 illustrations and smartphone-enabled Hirshhorn Eye video activations, as well as original contributions by Isgro, Alan Ket, Peter Michalski and Marguerite Itamar Harrison, plus interviews with the artists by Jochen Volz and Chiu. The Hirshhorn is grateful to Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul and London, for its support of this book.

The exhibition and accompanying catalog are supported by a grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Exhibition programming received federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the National Museum of the American Latino.

About OSGEMEOS

OSGEMEOS (b. São Paulo, 1974; live and work in São Paulo) are a collaborative art duo composed of twin brothers Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo. As children, the brothers developed a distinct way of communicating through artistic language, but it was with the introduction of hip-hop culture in the 1980s that OSGEMEOS began to use art as a way to share their dynamic and magical universe with the public. Combining historical and contemporary elements of Brazilian culture with graffiti, hip-hop, music, dreams and international culture, the artists have created an expansive body of work that includes murals, paintings, sculpture, site-specific installations and video. They use a symbolic visual language often inspired by dreams that, as twins, they claim to share. In addition to the use of bright colors and elaborate patterns, they are best known for their paintings featuring long-limbed figures with thin outlines, enlarged faces and simplified features. The use of doors, canvases, and mirrors, both literal—they paint directly onto discarded doors and incorporate reflective surfaces into their works—and as motifs, signal access to another realm or an entry point to the psyche, pulling viewers into their surreal and chimerical world.

About the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time—free to all. The Hirshhorn Museum is open daily, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. (except Dec. 25). For more information, visit hirshhorn.si.edu. Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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