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HULA Sean Yoro

Born in 1989 in Hawaii on the island of Oahu, Hula (formally known as Sean Yoro) emerged onto the street art scene with murals not in fact made on the street but on walls reached by the artist from his surfboard. The surfboard becomes a floating studio, holding his paints and brushes as he paints on the water.

Hula also works inside his studio, and paints on a variety of different surfaces, including broken surfboards and wooden panels. Inspired by famous artists of the Renaissance, he primarily paints hyper-realistic portraits of female figures. He is inspired by raw emotions, and seeks to capture different moments through the use of oil paint. He often likes to leave certain areas unfinished in order to emphasize the areas that he felt most compelled to paint.

Hula currently works out of New York City, traveling frequently around the US and Europe to paint murals and exhibit his work.

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?

I am always drawn to paint emotions and moments that I have a hard time expressing with words. I love using women as subjects because aesthetically they bring a softer, more delicate feel to the underlining message of my works. I also use these tribal-like markings on the figure, which represent the scars we get in life and how they make us unique and beautifully different. I usually like to add some interaction between these markings and the subject, showing their relationship with their own scars.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

It was a quote by Charles Bukowski given to me when I first moved to New York City from Hawaii: 

“My dear,
Find what you love and let it kill you.
Let it drain you of your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness.
Let it kill you and let it devour your remains.
For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.”

Prefer to work with music or in silence?

In the studio, I will never paint without my music. I listen to everything from Hip Hop to old Hawaiian classics. When I am painting my murals along the water outside, music seems out of place with the sounds of nature so the silence suits me well. It feels nice to have the change of painting environments.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?

It would be any piece by Istvan Sandorfi. The amount of raw emotion mixed with hyperrealism is what I always hope to achieve with my paintings.

Who are your favorite writers?

Definitely C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Their imaginations and storytelling has always kept my mind busy with new perspectives and excitement since I was a kid.

We invite you to learn more about Hula’s unique artistic practice in this video!