The Belgian street artist ROA began, like many others, by painting on old industrial units or abandoned buildings. Today he has created works on the streets of cities around the globe.
ROA generally paints wild/urban animals and birds that are native to the area being painted; usually working in a minimal color pallet of black, white and red, he occasionally introduces more vibrant colors depicting flesh and/or internal systems within the creatures. “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.”
“You know the whole world is really taken over by humans…Well, there are a lot of animals who manage to use it to their benefit. I’m really interested in the circle of life as something that most people see as something horrific”it can be something really
beautiful… When I travel, I try to paint the local species. So I’m always interested in the little scavengers and rodents and crazy animals that live with the people in the city, animals that are survivors.”
Roa thrives on the challenge of the street’s varying canvases. In addition to the obvious physical considerations of the doors and windows, sometimes inaccessibility itself, there is also the context of the street to keep in mind. He claims it all becomes part of his process: “If you work with it, it brings your work to the next level.”
In 2010 ROA came to particular notice in the UK when the Hackney council threatened to remove one of his paintings, a 3.5m high rabbit that had been legally painted on the wall of a recording studio in Hackney Road, London. A campaign to keep the mural was launched by the building’s owners and local residents, forcing the council to change its mind. Since then he has reached International prominence, and has had several gallery shows and individual commissions.