Maybe nobody fits better to the SUNRISE topic than the Brazilian twins OS GEMEOS. Their pieces and huge mural productions take the viewer on a trip to their own world, where they have created a beautiful and unreal reality what remind us of the hours between night and day. With the power of simultaneity and their unsaturated rage, the twins pushed graffiti on a higher level, not only in Brazil!
We are happy that they took time to answer our questions - welcome to the world of OS GEMEOS.
introduce yourselves to our readers. I don't think there are too
many graffiti fans that don't know OSGEMEOS from Brazil but just
for the case there are ...
OK ... We are the guys from Tritrez. They call us OSGEMEOS.
When did you start painting?
In 1986 - 87 ... We don't remember exactly! We have been drawing since we were four years old.
How did you start your graffiti lives? I think there was a big difference to the beginnings in Europe or the US.
We grew up in a neighborhood called Cambuci downtown Sao Paulo. Back in those days, the Hip Hop culture was very strong down there. Every day in front of our house, B-Boys came to dance on the bench. We grew up playing in the streets and there, we learned how to dance. At this time, everyone played in the streets, goofed off, played soccer, destroyed stuff or put fire crackers inside the mail boxes to watch them explode! We broke windows, made fire during cold weather and fought against neighboring gangs. We saw the beginning of Hip Hop in Sao Paulo. This was around 1983 or 1984. First, we learned how to dance (B-Boy), than we started doing graffiti. We wanted to do everything - Rap, DJing and to paint graffiti. At that time, the most important bench was in the Sao Bento subway station and everybody started going there and exchanged information. Before we saw "Spray Can Art" and "Subway Art" we saw the book "Munichgraffiti", but only some pages. Our friend ZELAO (RIP) only had some pages and he showed us what he got. Back then, we just wanted to learn how to use spray cans and how to do breakdance. We always danced in this downtown station and the station was very nice. Nobody caught tags around this subway station because security had kicked you out of there. Everybody from Brazil met there on Saturdays! We didn't have video cassettes, so everything we saw was on TV or in magazines, we had stolen from stores. I remember, we used latex to fill in the pieces and spray cans for the outlines - it was cheaper that way. The first time we saw the book "Spray Can Art" was around 1988. It was a black and white photocopy. We loved the European part. The first time we saw pieces from MODE2, BANDO, GOLDIE, SHOE ... we freaked out!!! It was incredible to see graffiti from across the ocean and how it changed in the different countries it has arrived! Europe was closer to us, because we were also forced in developing something different. FUTURA 2000 style and DONDI influenced a lot over there.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Are there any writers or other artists you would name that you looked up to, or still do?
WHEW!!!! A lot of things! A lot of people! We feel that everything we love or hate influences us. The life, the food, love, sex, graffiti, street theater, the circus, vandalism, the night, nature... The simple and magical moments of life... Back in 1989 we met SPETO (an old-school writer from Sao Paulo) he painted graffiti and did animation. For that time, he had a very particular and unique style. It was very original, and let us practice more and more our own style. At this time, we did lettering like "Wild Style" and so we exchanged a lot of information. We learned from him that we could do our own style and that we just had to find it. We have to mix in everything we like and then see the result. We showed SPETO style writing and "Wild Style" letters and he showed us how to find our own style. Before that, we did a lot of B-Boy characters and mugs (DOZE GREEN style) and were really influenced by Vaughn Bode's characters, SKEME, TACK, and Japanese Manga. At the beginning of the 1990's we met Barry McGee (TWIST). He came to Brazil in 1993 to do an art residency and exhibitions in Sao Paulo. It was the first time, we met a writer from abroad and he showed us a lot. Especially style writing, more original styles and how we can do a lot more with lesser colours. He also showed us the movie "Style Wars" for the first time! After we saw that, we went to the yard the following Sunday afternoon and painted our first train... He showed us the bombing side of graffiti and we had a lot of fun with throw-ups, tags, etc. After that, we realized that we can use the city in different ways, before the city uses us! Another important thing we learned was that you can live from your art. You can travel around and exhibit your stuff in art galleries. When Barry returned to USA, he talked to Allen Benedikt about us. Allen was the person behind the magazine "12oz Prophet". He interviewed us first, in 1997. At that time, a lot of people got access to our work. During the period before the internet, this magazine helped us and other artists from South America, presenting our stuff to a huge audience around the world. After that, writers from all over the world came to Brazil for painting. Writers like ZAK (Hamburg), VER (California), LOOMIT (Munich), Peter Michalski (Germany), DOZE (NYC), DAZE (NYC), ZEKIS (Chile) and many more.
Is there something else you are influenced by?
Freedom ... The way, we play in the streets and learning how to play. Especially the incentive and support we receive from our family and friends. We are very inspired by the dreams we have, the life, the family, friends, nature, love, hate...everything we feel. Also we get inspiration from movies like "Pink Floyd - The Wall", "Heavy Metal", "Willy Wonka", "La Cite des Enfants Perdus", "Dirty Hands", "Art Inconsequence" and people like Terry Giliam, Tim Burton, Jan Svankmjer, Slava Polunin and Siba e a Fuloresta (musician). It's funny; we go so deep into our world that we sometimes forget that we are on this planet. Sao Paulo is the place that gives us a lot of inspiration in many different ways: how to survive in the city, how to escape from the problems and how to "keep walking". We hang out with friends and family, this inspires us a lot...We have learned a lot from travelling with all of its experiences like meeting people, discovering their culture and visiting amazing places. We love the street theatre from France. They have AMAZING festivals with people like "Plasticien Volant" and "Royal Deluxe".
As the name implies: You are twins. Have you ever thought of going separate ways, with two single names? Or has it always been clear, that you paint as one team?
NEVER! We were born together and we'll leave together! When we paint we are one and the same.
Let's talk about graffiti in Brazil or South America as a whole, if that's possible. You guys seem to travel a lot, so what are your thoughts about graffiti in Brazil compared to Europe or the US?
It's very different. In Brazil we do a lot of painting in the day time, especially on Sundays (relax day). We started doing that in the 90's, before the city understood what graffiti is. In Sao Paulo, there are a lot of big problems like violence and other larger things, the police has to handle. Graffiti and tags are small problems compared to such a huge crime scene. So we tried to make them understand that we were contributing to the city in a good way. We used colours, painted pictures and put our names and character everywhere. We had nothing to hide... We tried to make the city a better place for all the people living in the streets. Our work is full of colour and has a message... We use graffiti as a "voice" to say what we feel. It's important for people to realize that they can paint. Maybe they can start a career with their art, instead of being stuck in a shitty job. The scene down there is really big today. Many new writers have started bombing the city and some of them have a really good style and good ideas. The scene started in Sao Paulo but spread out to all over Brazil. Every simple place you can find one or two guys with good work. Like Chile, the graffiti scene there is older than in Sao Paulo. It started in the early 80's and they have very good styles there! Amazing full colored pieces in the streets, throw-ups, tags...Whole South America looks amazing today like Argentina (Buenos Aires). The train scene is really great, you can see panels and Whole Cars are running for months!
Tell us a bit about living in Sao Paolo. It seems that it's not the safest place in the world to live. Especially from the German point of view. True?
Sao Paulo is a wonderful city, things are happening here 24 hours a day! But at the same time it is too much! We are learning a lot in this city, and it helps us finding our on "window to escape". Sao Paulo is the city of contrast, the city without any organization. It is not a safe place to live, you never know what happens around the next corner...The people, the food, the girls, the graffiti scene, everything. When we went to Germany for the first time in 1999, invited by LOOMIT, it was crazy to arrive in Munich, compared to where we come from. I think at this time, nobody understood what we do. We remember that somebody came to us and said: "This is graffiti? Where are you guys come from? There is Graffiti in Brazil?"We loved that! We saw that we were different but in a good way. You have to consider, that in Brazil we have lots of good things like good food, an amazing landscape, nature, beautiful girls, good graffiti and nice people! We can paint a lot there. I think, we can say that we live in paradise, but with some "snakes" around. If you speak Portuguese, you can do a lot in Brazil.
In Europe there is a huge train writing scene. How is it in Brazil? Do people paint a lot of trains?
The Train scene has started in 1994 (there are some trains painted in the 80's but we do not consider). Back in the days, we had a crew called PACrew (AMIGO, ONESTO, SER, REMO, and YAMA). We were the first guys who hit the trains down here. The PAC was active for 6 to 7 years - the time we went to school - and we all quitted that crew and have stayed friends, because everyone has done his own thing. Later on, we founded VLOK crew together with some friends and some of the guys painted subways and trains. After that, crews like TOTAL or 163 have shown up and became one of the most active crews here in Sao Paulo for the train scene.There is not a big scene here like in Europe, but some of these people risk their lives to have pieces running for some hours or only for a photo. In Brazil, depending on the place, they would shoot at you for that. We have a lot of respect for the train bombers here in Brazil. Today, you can see people bombing trains in Porto Alegre like DANO and some other guys. In Rio you have STYLE and IPEK. All over Brazil you have some people who hit the trains, but the big scene is in the streets, bombing the gates and private, public or particular walls.
The more you paint the trains, the more they clean them the same time. It's crazy how clean the Brazilian subway is. It's one of the cleanest train lines ever! If you scratch a single window, in the same night they will stop the train to change it, that's crazy. The tunnels are very, very clean too, because the workers work all night long to make everything perfect. That's amazing to see. Today, most of the yards have cameras, fences, electric fence sensors and shit like that, but very often they do some "mistakes".
How is the political situation regarding illegal graffiti in Brazil? What are the forces, people have to fear?
We could write a book with so many stories. We have talked to the police or securities so many times, to "convince" them or to escape. Ok, we tell you a funny story, happened some year ago. The mayor of Sao Paulo tried to clean the whole city from graffiti. So we fought against them in the news and on TV with headlines like "the government will destroy our culture and art (pieces, throw-ups, everything)!!!" We painted a big, 60 meters long wall in downtown Sao Paulo with a big mural 7 years ago without permission and they buffed it. The people of Sao Paulo loved that mural and kept it for a long time and the government buffed it, you know! We really fought against the idea of the program "clean city". We talked to every single newspaper and TV station about that. Graffiti has been in Sao Paulo for more than 20 years and this government wants to "destroy" pieces or "art" in the streets! They used our money from taxes, which was supposed to use for helping people in the streets, to "clean" the city from graffiti and things like that! One day, "THE MAYOR" called us on our personal phone. That was crazy! How did he find out that number? You can believe it or not! He asked us to visit him in his office because we should have a conversation with him. They wanted to make us hush and we should stop talking against them. So we went there and they told us: "Sorry we made a mistake, we buffed the wrong wall...bla bla." We were supposed to paint the wall again, but we wanted to see in what direction this conversation would go. We told them, that we will repaint this wall and that the government has to stop buffing graffiti and pixaçao in the city! Furthermore we said them that this part of the Sao Paulo culture has a very good exposition to the rest of the world but the government of Sao Paulo does not respect that! So we told them, that we need money to do that wall again, because it's very big! We remember that one of the ideas was not to use any public money from the government. At first point is that this money has to be used for something more important and not for painting walls. The second point is that the government doesn't have any money. Our friend ISE and us tried to find a sponsor for that project and we found a company called "Associaçao do Comercio de SP". They helped us with money for the paint and the scaffold. After that, we started a very long discussion to stop the buff, we think this last for about two years and the graffiti writers have won! During all these years, they buffed fewer and fewer and therefore the city is more beautiful now, full of graff! Please don't tell that anyone, ok? If you do illegal graffiti, you are exposed to everything! A fight, go to jail, some crazy people shoot at you; you never know what will happen! The police do with the law what they want They paint your face, throw paint inside your clothing, take the paint away or take you to the police station and you have to sign for vandalism or damage. Sometimes it will better if you talk with them and convince them to clean that or you have to run like you never did before!
You are often into galleries and well noticed within the art scene, but also very well known on the streets. What's the main part of your work and what are the good and bad parts of both „worlds"?
In galleries we have found the direction to build things. That's what we have done since we are five years old. We love to build things and let the people escape from this world for some minutes. As well, we live with our art, travel around, meet nice places and have good friends and of course paint. The street means no fake for us! If you paint in the streets, you will have to paint ever and ever again. Today, we don't play that game like the years before. We don't have so much time to go out but sometimes we like to play this serious game. It's another world compared with galleries. In the streets everything is there. You don't have to build things and we saw situations that really have impressed us - people who live there, violence, accidents, fights, kids used drugs and you go out to see all this pain. Sometimes you have to spent hours talking to the cops to be safe or have to escape without finishing your work. But we think that the most depressing thing for us is not having a photo of a piece. On the other hand, the best thing is to have fun with our crew and friends that we respect.
Do you have somebody who manages you for the art market or do you handle your works by yourselves?
We handle a lot by ourselves and with some friends and our family. The art market is like a big dragon, sometimes it wants to burn you like an angry shark! If you know how to dominate them, you sit on his back and fly high! You know, many people do that today because it has a vogue! Sometimes they don't know what they do. It's very important to know first what you want for yourself before you show your work. The graffiti writers have the special power to use the city on different media like the streets, trains etc. and this is the best propaganda!
What pushes you forward?
We believe that, because we haven't expected anything and everything in our life happens in a natural way. That's why we work very very hard and always try to find something new. Life is too short and loosing time is bullshit. It's not intelligent, it's stupid. We just have tried to find our mission here and we keep looking for that! We have tried to make people dreaming and flying away in their head. It's like giving them a simple magical moment, like smiling and crying. We want to effect emotions because people need emotions and adrenaline!
What is the place in the world you like most? Why?
OH! We love many many places. We love Germany because it was our first stop in Europe and we have good friends there! We like Milano, Barcelona, Lithuania, Greece, New York, and Chile. I think we have to travel more to countries in Eastern Europe.
I think there are a hundreds of stories to tell from your trips. Are there some specials, you remember the most?
We have travelled a lot. Every year, we imagine that every trip becomes special. It's nice to see the different cultures and costumes, the different folk art, music and food.That's all stuff we can use in our "world". We learned that life is too short to do bad things. You have to use the energy to be constructive and to teach other people what you have learned. You have to give away your hope, love and happiness! It will be good, if everyone would see the world from the viewpoint "the more we learn, the more we will realize that we know nothing!" There is a lot to learn!
If you think about graffiti in the future, what will happen and where do you want to see yourselves?
I don't know what's going on in the future but now we have to think about the present because "what happen in the future we will see tomorrow". We know that graffiti is not for everyone. We know lots of people who have done so much and keep it going in secrecy. They are not in magazines, websites, blogs and don't "talk" about graffiti, they just DO IT! This is the spirit of the whole thing and we love that! We love to arrive in a city, looking out of the window and see people writing all city! Some people used the name "graffiti" or now the name "street art" to promote themselves. For us, graffiti is not only painting pieces and all that things. We respect a lot of people who dedicated their whole life to graffiti. We know that this life is not easy. We have lots of friends who lost their girlfriends or wife, went live long to jail or can't leave the country just for writing their name! Everybody who give all of its energy for one thing and do this with love will get something back. If you do bad things, it will come back to you. We don't believe that painting graffiti is something bad! It's just paint on some surfaces. You have to find the answer, in what way you believe in graffiti and how much time you will spend on this. The future of graffiti depends on the way you do that and it's very particular for each of us.
Let's talk about your style. How would you describe it?
We are very comfortable with our style and it's time to play a little! We don't know how to describe that! Sorry, but we love yellow and dark red! We paint what we believe in and the scenes which shown up in our heads. It's like a movie but we have just paused with that, it's too complex.
Yellow seems to be one of your favorite colours. Is it true and is there a special reason for it?
Yes it is. One day, some light shined inside our studio and this light was very yellow, after that we can't use other colours for the character skin and the lettering...The outlines we paint with dark red! This is also a specialty from Brazil. Some writers have their own colours, like FINOK. He only paints with green and dark blue and ISE paints more with red and the outline in black, others paint more with blue and black ...
You are well known for your characters, especially within the art scene, but also for styles, tags and throw-ups. Do you have a favorite way to express yourselves?
When we paint, this is the way to talk to the people. A tag, a throw-up, whatever. We always want to say something. It is not only the picture or the atmosphere of the graffiti world; it is everything that surrounds it what let us think a lot about. Graffiti is the second way for us to discover how to live in harmony with our family, friends and the principal in this society. Sometimes it's funny to see, how deep inside we are into our world. We are sorry for that... We have discovered that we are closer to god while we are drawing and closer to the people around us. We have a better feeling for the things around us ... It is like mediation for us. We have to stay closer to the people we love because that make us feeling more communicative. Sometimes, they understand a little bit more what we are doing because of that! What we want to say is, that some things takes time to realize - sometimes years and sometimes the whole life! Sometimes you think, that the people you are in a relationship with for many years; sleep with, love and hate with, share everything with will understand you ... but they would never do that!!! They say that they know you, but they don't. It's very complicated! Paint let us feel closer to the people. In this case we are very explicit because it's easy to know us and the way we think or believe in dreams. It's difficult to have relationships, because when we draw, we are kept in our world, inside of our bubble and every song around us will be in the environment! When we started drawing, we were 4 or 5 year old and we always showed our work to our parents.
What does the perfect OSGEMEOS piece looks like and where should it be?
We're still doing our craft and working towards the perfect piece.
I think you've reached a level where you can live from your art. It's a situation, a lot of artists dream about. Are there dreams you have for the future or do you feel like everything is perfect?
Not everything is perfect and not everything is as easy as it seems to be. We work hard and keep working. Life is like the sea, sometime you take big waves and sometimes the sea is very calm ... Sometimes there is a big storm and sometimes the sun hits your head. When we have started exhibitions in museums and galleries, we have fun, a lot of fun and nothing more! For that we found more and more our own style. It's the way to go more inside of us and paint what we see. They started inviting us to do shows and of course after we met Barry, we said "it is nice to live from art". But in Brazil everything is special and to live from art in this time is very difficult! We have really studied a lot. We have spent more than 10 years studying our style and drawing every day. Sometimes we look to ourselves and say: "Yes, we are in a good way." Most of the things that happen in our live happen very naturally. If you do something and you go very deep into it, of course someone will realize that ... Style is a very important start!
What was the most interesting project you had? Why?
We had so many nice and crazy projects but one of the funniest was the "Whole-Train-Project". We did more than 15 Whole Trains... legal!!!! In Brazil it is very difficult to convince the companies with our projects. Lots of artists were involved and we had lots of fun! We love everything what we do and for everything we give 100% of us. It's like every simple project is a small piece of something big that will be completed in the "end".
Is there anything that plays the main roll in your work? A special attitude or feeling?
That's a nice question. If you find a window, you look through it and you could see a beautiful landscape. Then you jump out of the window and look around and you won't come back again, it will be dangerous. We did this a long time ago and we feel us comfortable in our world ... Do you know the song "Rocketman"? You know, in the graffiti world and in the art scene we know a lot of people who live for other people. Many times, we wanted to look like somebody else, painted that somebody could see it, "fooled the roots" and forgot that we have only this one life. We don't want to be like somebody else, because we know that we can find a lot because we really try it and dive very deep into our own world. So we forget what's happening outside. If you do that, it will be better to look around you, because time is precious and you can watch the things from a higher position! Seeing things smaller as they are can help a lot with that. Sometimes we are worried about a lot of bullshit. If we compare this with the big problems in the world, so many shit happened. It's always good to ask you for yourself, what you have to do. If things you do will help somebody. Anyway, to find a good feeling and good attitudes is not that easy, not for everyone.
I think there are a lot of young artists who just started and look up to you. What do you want to say to them?
If everybody is an artist, the world would be better!!!!
Any last words?
LOOMIT, CHINTZ, AGIT, TAPS, MOSES, CODEAK, VINO and the TSK Family, WOOZY, SPIT, KANS, BUNNY, Rosy, Nina, ZANT, FINSTA, LOSE, TVE Crew, TNT Crew, OPAK and SDKWUFC Crew, FIA Crew, WCA Crew, MR MAKS, FAXO, MIND, PANDA, GEES, DUMBO, Barry McGee, Josh, DAIM, TASEK, STOHEAD, NEON, BLU, JONONE, AISLAP, MODE2, Mark Bode, STONE, CMD, HONET, STAK, TILT, NEMA and TPG Crew, BELLA DONNA, CYTHERA, BANOS, EGS, ZAK, OZ, BATES, CHOB, BANDO, REAZE and WOW Crew, SMOLE, TRANE, THE, DELTA, HOWNOSM, Lee Quinones, GHOST, T-KID, YES2, FUTURA 2000, SUPE, MISS17, FABEL, BLADE, DAZE, DOZE, RAVEN, IRAK Crew, ADEK and BTM Crew, COPE2, UTAH, KR, EARNOT, SACER (RIP), NUG, ALL Crew, MSK Crew, PMS Crew, FAME Crew, CAP Crew, APOLLO, NECRO, KET, FBA Crew, KEN SWIFT, SEB, MOAR, DAIL, REAS, ESPO, DONDI, KEGR, FAYER, JA , REMIO, RUD, CYCLE, ROYAL Crew, VIM , MOAS Crew, TATS Crew, MRIX, FOIM, O'CLOK, CAKES, JR, YESK, ZEVS, PSY156, BANKSY, Martha Copper, 163 Crew, TOTAL Crew, Henry Chalfand, HUMAN, FIVE, and special thanks to our family, VLOK crew, ISE, KOYOK , NUNCA, FINOK,TOES, ZEFIX, FRS, CEKIS, CAUR, all the bombers from Sao Paulo and South America and all the people we have forgotten and we have never met, but let the things never end!!!
Thanks a lot guys! It's a pleasure to have you within the Sunrisefile