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Los Pepes Studio - Portugal’s Gangsters Of Love

Words:

Edd Norval
May 11, 2022

Self-proclaimed ‘gangsters of love’, the Los Pepes Studio duo create bold and euphoric artwork with the intention of spreading positive thoughts and feelings to all who see it.

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When we say ‘bright’, think fluorescent highlighters. Instant feelgood. The kind of bright that could cut through the clouds on an overcast day. That kind of bright. There’s something inherent in the value of colours, the hope in the hue, whereby particular ones can elicit particular physical and emotional responses. As true for insects as every other animal, colour associations are hard-wired into our DNA.


Much of the work created by the duo - consisting of Meggie Prata and Francisco Leal - follows along this line of exploring exactly what colours can do to the human mind. With their combination of spray painted street art murals and digitally rendered designs, colour is as much of a common motif in their work as the smiley face, the heart or a host of other fantastical interpretations of humans and animals.

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Linking up through a background in plastic art and design - two disciplines that are very clearly expressed through their compositions - Los Pepes utilise patterns and geometry heavily when constructing their two-dimensional works, relying on textural elements and contrast to accentuate the positively-charged symbolism to really shine.


As much as their art, we must also look at those creating it. The duo are a couple. Named Los Pepes after the anti-Pablo Escobar vigilante group, they’ve embodied their own ‘gangster’ identity like Portugal’s art-school graduate Bonnie and Clyde. Their relationship, the connection shared between the two, is what makes their art pop. It’s a collaborative effort that manifests like the middle of a Venn diagram when two minds meet each other over common ground.

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Because of the dynamic and malleable nature of their work, much of it appears in unexpected places, meaning that location doesn’t limit what they do but, in fact, provides their art with opportunities that others may not have the freedom to engage with. Whether it be shop fronts, terraced rooftops in Lisbon and Porto or entire facades of apartment blocks, Los Pepes fill in the subtle spaces of life - both highly visible and, for some people, locations that are highly personal.


Formed in 2015, the duo still feel young. They know who they are and have some ideas of who they want to be. They know that their work is still gestating, incubating in the mind of two lovers who understand themselves and each other - both at home, cooking, shopping, like other couples, but also in the process of creating art together, a unique bond they share.

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