ROA

[
BELGIUM
]

ROA's work has been turning heads...

internationally for bringing birds, rodents and other animals back into consciousness in the areas they once inhabited. Usually painted on an impressively large scale—covering walls in cities including London, Warsaw, Madrid, Berlin, New York, Moscow, Los Angeles and Mexico City—these animals are anachronic to the urban streets and abandoned factories that they reside in. For the artist, they tell so much more about the world than any other imaginary being could. He remembers growing up in Belgium, wanting to be an archaeologist or something adventurous and collecting little skulls from birds and rodents to draw at home.

While ROA's passion for peculiar animals is evident, each of his street pieces is also site specific. "I prefer to paint animals that are local to the region I am painting, and the wall itself also inspires my imagery: the size, the structure and its situation." Going to new places gives him a chance to paint new animals, and for his Wynwood Walls mural, ROA chose the Florida panther, which is a subspecies of the cougar, and discovered its anatomy in the process. He adds, "Originally, a volunteer organization invited me to make an action to raise public awareness of the problems of global warming, so I thought the endangered Floridian cougar is better over here in Miami; it felt for me the right one to paint."

The poignancy of ROA's subject matter is unavoidable in the final image we see of the decomposing cougar lying with his head leaning on the door. It is a commentary on global destruction as well as survival. The artist was first introduced to spray paint via Subway Art and hip hop, and his evolution from graffiti to using spray cans to draw on walls is also remarkable. ROA's dominion over sketching with lines on a grand scale, and his ability to create realistic feathered or furry figures on all kinds of surfaces using only black and white paint, make his work stand out. ROA was immediately attracted to the Wynwood Walls when he first saw them in 2010, and we're happy that he was able to paint them in 2011.