Arts Beat: Paint the Town

Kelburn Castle in Scotland

Os Gêmeos’s work decorating Kelburn Castle in Scotland

For months ICA adjunct curator Pedro Alonzo has been obsessed with walls. And not just pretty ones. Alonzo’s been scrutinizing the brick and concrete façades that line the Greenway, sections of Allston and Brighton, and Mass. Ave. between MIT and Central Square. He’s been hunting for the perfect wall, the one that will become the next canvas for Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo, known together as Os Gêmeos — the superstar Brazilian street artists whose work will be shown at the ICA from August 1 to November 25.

Otavio and Gustavo are identical brothers, hence their moniker, which means “the twins” in Portuguese. At first, they took their inspiration from ’80s hip-hop culture, gravitating to the only large-scale medium that was accessible in São Paulo: buildings. But instead of using posters or spray paint like Shepard Fairey in the U.S. or Banksy in the U.K., they opted for house paint to create intricate, kaleidoscopic works of surreal slit-eyed humanoids, placed in scenes from folklore or contemporary times. Since then, their murals have graced apartment houses in Lisbon and Berlin, a castle in Scotland, and trains in their home country.

The upcoming ICA-exhibit will be Os Gêmeos’s first career survey, with the yet-to-be-painted mural its most lasting component. But once Alonzo narrows down the potential sites to a few walls around town, he’ll still have to negotiate with property owners to get permission for the piece’s creation. Obtaining rights is critical — Shepard Fairey was arrested before his ICA show in 2009 for arting up public spaces without first getting approval. In the end, it will be the artists themselves, scheduled to arrive a few days before the August opening, who will select from the surfaces Alonzo has picked out.