When you arrive at 2nd Avenue and 1st Street in the East Village of New York City, you’re met with a massive yellow figure climbing out of the wall, dressed in a turned-around cap and a track jacket,wielding a boombox. It’s a tribute to the hip hop culture that heavily influenced the artists, Brazilian twins known artistically as OSGEMEOS. The mural features one of their signature yellow characters which is meant to be racially neutral (in contrast with having to identify with one of the six preset emoji skin tones offered by WhatsApp), and it’s just one of the thoughtful concepts you’ll find at the duo’s exhibition, Silence of the Music, at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in Chelsea.
Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo are consistently included in group exhibitions featuring street artists, which is how they made their start the 1980s. Like most other street artists, accessibility was a priority. But it served a greater need in their home of Sao Paulo where economic disparity, violence, and drug use were common societal ills. At Silence of the Music, it’s difficult not to find hope and cheer in the pure explosion of color contained within the rooms.
But the exhibition pays tribute to music in particular. The intersection of street culture and hip hop, most recently popularized in Netflix’s The Get Down, is a place they seem at home in. A room with illustrations of dancers and boomboxes feels uniquely theirs. And the gramophone-turntable-speaker sculpture sitting in front of a collage of 70s iconery is similarly on-brand. But Silence of the Music is a multi-room exhibition which includes installations that have a more abstract relationship to music. There’s a room where a sculpture takes center stage, but the walls are painted from floor to ceiling in layers of red, orange and yellow and it seems to simulate the sensation of being engulfed in the warmth of sound.
We commonly hear about people who may see sounds, taste words or associate a color with a number, and it’s all due to a condition called synesthesia. Well-known artists like Pharrell Williams and Kanye West have admitted to their ability to visualize sound, and visiting Silence of the Music feels like the closest “normals” like you and I might be able to experience it.
The Silence of Music is on display through October 22 at Lehmann Maupin.
536 West 22nd St
Tuesday-Saturday, 10am – 6pm
Pair it with:
Dessert from Seed + Mill
Halva is a common dessert in many countries and the name is derived from the Arabic root word that simply means “sweet”. Seed + Mill does a great job of contemporizing the traditional dessert for today’s palate, turning halva into tempting cakes in a multitude of creative flavors. Though they appear dense, they manage to dissolve on your tongue without leaving any trace of heaviness. The halva here is derived from sesame seeds making it naturally gluten-free, and there are many vegan options available. We munched on a few pieces and saved some to crumble on our ice cream later. There is also a goat milk soft serve with halva bits and tahini swirl that many swoon over. It’s a unique dessert definitely worth maneuvering the Chelsea Market crowds for.
409 West 15th St
Daily 10am – 8pm