(American, b. 1985)
Ave’s Sonar, 2022
Aerosol on canvas
DUAL’s street art is a bold claiming of a public space, declaring his presence, and displaying his aerosol skills available for everyone to see and enjoy. The Houston-based artist honed his painting skills from an early age and has gained artistic mastery of an unwieldy material (aerosol is notoriously difficult to control), while continuously sharpening his own unique style. Lately, DUAL has been finding inspiration from images of the Amazonian rainforest. The wild forms and lush colors he finds in this mysterious ecosystem have served as his motivation for Ave’s Sonar, his community billboard at the University of Houston. DUAL was excited for the opportunity to create a community wall at his own alma mater saying, “I hope my work can inspire others to create work for themselves and to go bigger and push the art form for younger generations so that the cycle may continue.” As for the inspiration behind his works, DUAL explains, “I feel really strongly about how important public art is for a city. It is a must. It is there for viewers to not only enjoy, but to question and hopefully even be a form of motivation.”
Bearing a likeness to 1980s aesthetics, DUAL’s neon colors playfully mix with clean cut geometric lines and shapes patterned in motion. This style gives a wave-like 3D effect to the canvases, boards, and walls he paints on. The artist’s technique involves meticulous taping and strategic coverings, spray painting, and then peeling away the tape to reveal clean lines and shapes (he keeps the used tape to repurpose into collages on paper). While aerosol naturally delivers a hazy line, the tape enables exactitude and makes for elegant and precise shapes and lines. The shock of bright neons and playful imagery impart a vibrant joy throughout all his works. DUAL began his craft in graffiti and street arts (painting abandoned walls and poster-bombing) and has been painting on abandoned walls of the city since 2000. As he has enhanced his skills, he now maintains a consistent studio practice where he has expanded to incorporate more traditional art forms such as paint on canvas, collage on paper, and traditional sign paintings, while–always fun and playful–there is also the occasional painted birdhouse along with painted boards in the shape of large tropical leaves.
DUAL’s use of a pseudonym belongs to a long tradition of anonymity within the street art community. Spray paint artistry is considered vandalism in the strictest sense of the word and is illegal when done without permission and proper authorization. Because of this, street artists tend to remain anonymous. DUAL prefers to keep his face hidden in most photographs and on social media—on-line spaces where personal visibility that accompanies success and personal privacy may not always coincide. The artist explains that his chosen pseudonym DUAL itself refers to the duality between street art and fine art, where the artist asks us to examine the differences, if any, between these often-separate worlds. Instead of a strict binary of two separate realms—the street and the gallery—perhaps there are more similarities than differences. DUAL’s artworks explore a generous free flow between these two realms and asks us to do the same.
DUAL obtained his BFA from University of Houston with a concentration in painting. Using the city of Houston as his canvas, DUAL has been commissioned to create custom wall murals by many successful businesses located in highly visible areas. On a smaller scale, but with similar
intentions, the artist has created several “mini murals” on the city’s electric boxes that can be found throughout Houston. All of this work is part of his personal “city beautification project.” DUAL has exhibited continuously in Houston since 2009 with several group and solo shows. He is included in the 2011 documentary Stick ‘Em Up!, an investigation of wheatpaste artists, and he has been featured in many Houston periodicals and has been included in two books on contemporary art, including Stickers: Stuck Up Piece of Crap: From Punk Rock to Contemporary Art (2010).
University of Houston
Arts District (Exterior of the College of Technology Building)