Fox News and Crazy People in Boston Link Os Gêmeos Mural to “Terrorism”

Last week, The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston opened a show featuring the work of Brazilian graffiti art duo Os Gêmeos, real names Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo. This represents the twins’ first solo museum exhibition in the United States and in addition to creating paintings, sculptures, and installations for the space, they also painted two public murals, one of which is courting some controversy by way of, who else, the local Fox News affiliate.

After posting an image of the wall on their Facebook page, things quickly got ugly as viewers posted their art critiques, saying that it looked like a “terrorist” and a “towel head.” Fox then hit the streets to hear directly from some of Boston’s craziest and a handful were more than happy to oblige and also said that the piece reminded them of a “terrorist.” Unfortunately, these Beantown residents aren’t familiar with the artwork of Os Gêmeos. They’ve been painting their signature characters wearing head coverings and hoodies for well over a decade now, and terrorism has never been the inspiration, not even in the abstract sense. Also, someone should send Boston a memo: here’s what the new face of terrorism looks like.

UPDATE: Kelly Gifford of ICA Boston writes: “I believe we have only received one complaint, the feedback we have received has been very positive, people love the mural and the exhibition. Please find below information on the mural from Pedro Alonza, adjunct curator for the ICA.”

As part of an exhibition of their work at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, the Brazilian artists Os Gemeos–world-renowned for their public art projects–have created a monumental, 70′ x 70′ mural on the Dewey Square Air Intake Structure on the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway. Both the surrounding skyscrapers and the architecture of the Intake Structure itself influenced the subject matter of the mural: a giant, yellow-colored character in brightly mismatched clothes who appears to have squeezed himself in between the towering buildings that surround him. These yellow-colored characters are an iconic and recurrent feature in Os Gemeos’s work, and are depicted in a wide variety of situations. Sometimes they inhabit fantastical, dream-like landscapes of joy and color; other times we see them in more everyday situations–riding the subway, sitting at home with their families or, in the case of the figure on the Greenway mural, just peering at the busy city life unfolding below. The figures are frequently shown wearing whimsical hats, colorful hoods or scarves–another hallmark feature of the artists’ work.

Os Gemeos hope their mural will bring color and energy to the streets of Boston as well as inspire curiosity and imagination. Together, the Greenway mural and ICA exhibition offer a unique opportunity to fully experience the range and diversity of Os Gemeos’s artistic practice–from painting and sculptural works in the museum galleries to dynamic, large-scale murals on the city streets.

(Photo: Jenny Spadafora/flickr)