A new mural by Brazilian street art duo Os Gêmeos, installed in Boston’s Dewey Square this month as part of an exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, has become an unlikely subject of controversy. Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo, the identical twins behind Os Gêmeos (Portuguese for “the twins”), paint surreal figures inspired by images they both see in dreams. The Boston mural depicts a cartoonish, yellow-skinned boy—a frequent motif in the Pandolfos’ work—wearing clashing patterned clothing and a bright red sweater wrapped around his head. The head covering, despite also being typical Os Gêmeos fare, has inspired a slew of public criticism claiming the boy in the mural is a terrorist. Comments on Fox Boston’s Facebook posting of the image call the painting “poor taste” and the boy a “wife of a terrorist.”
Os Gêmeos draw upon hip-hop and urban Brazilian culture to create their cheerful and vibrant images, the interpretation of which they like to leave up to the viewer. The media backlash has inspired an outpouring of support for the artists and the mural, including from ICA’s director Jill Medvedow, who said in a press statement: “This work of art is a joyful addition to Boston’s skyline. With tremendous mastery of scale, painterly skill, and vibrant patterning, Os Gêmeos brings urban energy and a rich tradition of Brazilian creativity to Dewey Square in Boston. Good art gets people talking.”
Click through the slideshow for a journey through the mural’s creation. The mural, along with the twins’ first US solo exhibition, will be on view at the ICA in Boston through November 25.