Hawaiian-born painter and surfer Sean Yoro–known mainly as HULA–utilizes abandoned water-related infrastructure and images of bathing women to convene his love of water and the restorative power of art. Said Yoro, of his decision to craft these women in abandoned areas, “I chose the locations because they reminded me of ghost towns needing to breathe life again…[these] figures seemed lost in these structures, almost out of place.”
Positioning the subjects as if they are floating amid the waves is no easy feat, as Yoro must balance himself and his supplies on a stand-up paddle board in order to paint the portraits.
For all of that effort, though, Yoro’s impact on the painted area will be temporal. Given the nature of the painted surface and his use of oil paint, his artwork is prone to decay over time. But this does not deter Yoro: “I love the aging process and what nature does to the paintings,” he says. “It feels natural to create these paintings and let them go.”
Yoro’s portraits have captured the imaginations of those who see them, due at least in part to their larger than life presence and realism, and to the patterned markings on most of the women’s skin, which allude to Yoro’s Hawaiian heritage.
“I combined traditional Hawaiian tribal patterns with the same playful paint-like texture to make tattoos on the figures. They represented the unique scars from life we all have and carry with us. I wanted to show how people interact to their scars and, more importantly, the beauty and importance of them.”
Only four paintings exist in this particular series of watery portraits, but Yoro paints similar portraiture on cracked surfboards and regular canvases.