I find the work of the artist ROA quite inspiring and have enjoyed being exposed to his artwork on the international streets as shared via social media such as Instagram that can be viewed at #roa. You can also view ROA artwork here. Whilst I marvel at the amazing murals and beautiful depictions of animals, I have never seen a work by ROA outside the virtual world of sharing. Then I discovered that ROA was coming to Melbourne and exhibiting at Backwoods Gallery in Collingwood. To say I was excited is an understatement and the anticipation started to rise exponentially.
ROA has been in Melbourne for over a month now and, in that time, he has painted murals at Healesville Sanctuary as can be viewed at Streetart news; that I am yet to see. More painting by ROA at Healesville will be happening in the coming week and I am hoping to visit soon and capture the works in person.
The inspiration for this exhibition comes from the local wildlife, places and materials scavenged from abandoned places. I have discovered that this is a process of ROA at every place he visits. He embeds his experience in the local and draws inspiration from what he finds. This includes the animals of the local area and the materials found on which to create artworks.
I had been warned, as a vegetarian, I would find his work intensely confronting. However, beyond the smell of decay, that hits you as soon as you stumble into the driveway of Backwoods gallery, I found the experience of this exhibition to be a celebration of the life of animals and survival despite the destructive force of humans. Paying homage to the cycles of life and death present an acceptance and love of the animal as a being. I didn’t find this exhibition confronting and left with an intense respect for the artist and his work.
My personal reflections, and response to the work of ROA, suggest the capacity of human destruction is envisioned in our disdain of the existence of animals, their life, death and decay. In presenting the totality of cycle, the appreciation of animal existence and survival is intensified. His work captures the outside and inside. The experience is interactive as the artworks on salvaged materials produce canvasses that are constructed where you can open doors to reveal the inner parts of the animal depicted on the outer canvas. Similar to a lift the flap experience when reading a children’s book yet imminently superior. Learning that ROA is also a Zoologist adds further insight to his work and appreciation of animals.
The exhibition will be on till the 16th of December and they have a few filming projects happening to capture the transformation occuring during that time. As I’m leaving Melbourne on the 10th for a road trip, I won’t be able to go back and experience the level of the transformation that occurs and I can only imagine the smell.
The artwork will continue through time even when the decay of life is long gone.
Below are a series of pictures from my visit and a great video clip of ROA painting at an abandonded hospital in France.