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Urban Nigths

Uloang, Latin Accent on the Walls of Austin

Uloang, Latin Accent on the Walls of Austin

The walls of Austin scream in Spanish. Urban artists like Uloang fill their streets with a colorful style that is covered in pop culture. The Latin imaginary and the things that happen in this world are united by the same moon. This Venezuelan artist fuses his work with two antagonistic worlds destined to be understood: the street and the gallery. We were in his workshop to find out the details of his work, his life and his art. With all of you, Uloang.

ULOANG – Tesseract Mural from ULOANG on Vimeo.

 From Caracas to Austin

Luis Angulo is the real name of this fascinating urban artist who signs as Uloang, a spelling game with his last name. In his workshop located in East César Chavez, an area full of the most spectacular street art in the city, he works every day for hours imagining and planning his future murals. His life is an example of that transition that urban art lives, from illegality to the art market.

Uloang was born in 1984 in Caracas. The beautiful Venezuelan capital has been a hotbed of artistic talent since the twentieth century. In 1995, his father was offered an opportunity to transfer from the company where he worked at to Miami. The opportunities in North America seduce them. The reality in Venezuela, at that moment, drew a bleak future. He accepts it and the family moves to the United States. Although Luis left his country for the United States, he carried with him a perennial flame: art.

Upon arriving in Miami, his parents instilled in him the love for the art that has always accompanied him. It has been 23 years and now he is one of the outstanding faces of Austin’s young art scene. I love this scene. There are many possibilities and you can grow with it. In other cities like New York, everything is very established and it is very difficult to live as an artist. In Austin, there are not so many possibilities or so many galleries but people want art and they like artistic culture. Even though I’m young, it’s a very good place to be now. 

Uloang´s Workshop

Uloang is an eclectic artist. He likes to capture different images on the walls, from pop icons to scenes from his Latin genetics. I use pop images because they symbolize different things for each person. It is something very striking and evocative. I have painted characters like David Bowie, Jack Nicholson in The Shining and Elizabeth Taylor. They have a universal relevance and bring different memories to each person. It’s another way of interacting with people.

One of those pop characters is Christ, whom he painted at Hope Gallery. It’s a pop icon because it’s part of the culture. Pop is popular culture and he is part of that. That mural was not meant to be painted as Christ. People began to see him as a modern Christ.

The Artist´s Roots

Through his art he has approached his roots. My art helps me explore my identity as a Venezuelan. I painted the building January 23, which is a mythical image for any Venezuelan. Every time I painted it, I would read about its construction in the 50s, what it entailed and how it was designed. Through my art, I study what Venezuela is. 

23 January building mural

He has lived here in the Texas capial for more than 10 years. As a child, he decided to devote his life to art. In his school in Miami he met with his art teacher and with the hope of an aspirant he said: I want to be an artist. The young Uloang expected a positive response from his teacher but he looked at him strangely and said: Are you sure? What a crazy idea! That was his first test to prove if he had artist’s wood. It was a test to reflect. Wanting to be an artist is something half crazy. It’s not a good idea. Since that day, I often ask myself that same question to know if I have the same passion.

Here’s a tip that can be applied to new artists. Many young people who want to dedicate themselves to art think it’s something nice but being an artist is like any other career. Actually, you are starting your own company. You need to have the passion but also control your part of the business. Good times have to weigh more than bad ones. Although, all good things come out of a madness. If it’s easy, it’s not worth doing. 

He studied studied Fine Arts and a Master of Painting in Connecticut. Uloang came to Texas for love. He marries his high school sweetheart and they both move to the Lone Star State. They opted for Austin as their residence and soon moved into the art market of the city.

He worked hard for the next seven years in a company that was responsible for selling murals. It was art commissioned but he discovered a fundamental part of art after becoming a manager: the management of artists, promotion, the use of social networks and customer acquisition. Uloang is a restless guy and that’s why he abandoned his comfortable work. In his new job, he experienced three life changing events.

It was 2015 and within two weeks, his 17-year-old sister dies in an accident, her daughter is born and he is fired after a year in the new company. That’s when he decides to make a radical decision. I decided to do art full time and express myself through paintings and murals. It was difficult at the beginning. Everytime I work, I grow as an artist. 

Since then, he has founded his own studio. Every morning, I enter the studio with the intention of learning something and trying new things. Improving my art is what inspires me. I study other artists, the history of art and what happens in the world, not only in art.

Uloang & Obey Mural

Thanks to his experience with galleries and companies he has known the mercantile part of art in the United States which he defines as a bubble. There is American art and then the rest of the world. It happens the same as in movies, music and other disciplines.

The Art Bubble

This dominance of the world art market has a direct impact on artists who have many more possibilities than in other countries. Artists find it great because they can dedicate themselves to their art, but that does not mean that the quality is produced.

As Uloang says, being an artist here is much easier than in Latin America. The economy is so stable that you can dedicate yourself to art because there are opportunities and you can live from that. If you live in Venezuela and you are 25 years old, it is difficult for you to get a job as a painter if you continue to do it out of pure passion.

Uloang is interested in artists who know how to capture the evolution of time and take it to a wall or a canvas. I like art that is aware of our world. Although urban art can be personal, the good is that which captures the global.

Uloang is also a face of that thriving Latin culture that is already part of the essence of the United States. As we have seen with Trump’s election, there are people opposed to cultural change, something that has happened since the beginning. The colonies were founded, after the centuries Italians arrived, then Irish, Asians and now they are Hispanics. You have to put yourself in the other’s shoes and understand that we only want to share with you.

Street and Gallery

Fortunately, not everyone has problems opening up to new cultures and in Austin. Uloang has found a very lively urban art scene. He has been focused on this fascinating street world for three years after being very connected to the galleries, the other part of this business. A meeting point for Austin artists is HOPE Gallery, the urban outdoor art gallery in the city. A unique project in the United States that resembles the one carried out by Jasm1 and Collectif21 in the Swiss city of Ville de Sion. Going to HOPE is very fun because I can paint anything and go whenever I want. I do it to try new concepts.

At HOPE, all the values ​​of urban art are experienced. The ephemeral and respect for change are part of the ideology. Anyone can paint in this wonder free area. Contemporary artist Shepherd Fairey, the artist who became famous for Obama’s pop mural with the slogan Hope, helped launched HOPE. He painted some murals for the inauguration and they were covered the next day. This is urban art. My art is not more special than that of another artist. Obvious, I prefer that they respect it but if I paint something illegal, anyone can scratch it. If someone pays me $5,000, it’s something private. It’s not urban art.

Hope is changing locations. In a few months, it will move to another area of ​​the city. Despite being a graffiti sanctuar, it is illegal to paint on the street. Icons from Austin such as Fe De Rico have been able to give prestige to the walls of Austin and have made the leap to the most professional artistic world. Urban art is becoming the latest artistic avant-garde and the object of desire of gallerists.

For Uloang, this transition is natural. It is a natural step if you make art that matters. Bansky is important and that is why there are people who collect it. Urban art is still the gateway to art for the majority of the public outside of museums as remember the Venezuelan artist. It’s an art for the street and it should not belong to a millionaire who has millions to buy it. The gallery is a very closed area for people who have to pay their bills. In the gallery urban art loses its essence.

We leave his workshop and we leave him involved in his projects: painting outside of Texas and even outside the United States. We look back for the last time and we see him looking at the essence of urban art has become something more than an act of personal expression. The revolution has not been televised but is contemplated on your nearest wall. Beyond the limits of conventional art.

Uloang Exhibition in Spratx in 2018
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