Os Gemeos Giant of Boston mural Untapped Cities

Os Gemeos, which means “the twins” in Portuguese, is the mastermind collective behind several huge murals, including one on the side of PS 11 in New York City and a gigantic mural in Boston’s Dewey Square. Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo, twins from Brasil, started their first art tour in the United States back in 2010, after erecting a rather noticeable urban art mural right in the heart of Downtown Boston, close to South Station. Along with the Institute of Contemporary Art, where they had their first solo exhibit in the United States, these artists have brought their art to the world.

“The Giant of Boston” is painted on a 70 by 70 foot wall and it features a hooded figure with a bright yellow complexion seemingly leaning against the wall itself, knees drawn into its chest. Donning a clashing green and yellow shirt with blue and red checkered pants, he provides a momentary distraction for commuters that divert their stares toward his squinted eyes that stare blankly westward onto the city. 

ICA curator Pedro Alonzo was ecstatic with the opening of the mural in 2010: “I’ve seen people do triple-takes, they walk by and they’re like, ‘What!?’ And they keep looking back!”

The mural was met with some racially charged backlash in Boston, as many viewers were offended by accusations of the piece depicting a Muslim person dressed in a hijab. This feedback spawned a public statement from the American Civil Liberties Union last year: “The ACLU supports exercising freedom of expression, and that’s what the artists ‘Os Gemeos’ have done by getting a permit to create a mural depicting what the curator says is a little boy in pajamas with a shirt on his head,” explained Carol Rose, executive director.

“The Giant of Boston” always had an expiration date, as news surfaced this summer that the mural will come down on September 9. The ICA had kept secret the name of the artist that would replace Os Gemeos’ “The Giant” until last week, revealing that abstract artist Matthew Ritchie will mark the beginning of his residency at ICA with the erection of his mural at the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway. “The experience was worth repeating,” reports the Boston Globe, “it created buzz throughout Boston and brought art to the public without requiring people to pay admission fees or even visit a museum.”

Ritchie’s new mural, a $17,000 project funded by the Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, is to be completed the week of September 16.