“The artist carefully selects his wooden canvasses. It’s not sufficient that the recycled wood has a certain structure, grain or patina. […] past and present seem connected…” Those sentences are part of the release form ROA CATACLYSM exhibition at At The Gallery, in Antwerp, Belgium. But it goes to meet what has gone through my mind before I even read the well-written text by Kathy de Nève.
The first thing that surprised me about Roa was how emotional I got at the first time I saw his work live. When we see street art on internet it looks cool, difficult to make and in some cases, it also looks really big. But in real life, it is another story.
As soon as I entered at the gallery the fresh spray/paint smell took over my nose and it put me immediately inside of Roa’s work. And again the emotion took place and I was hypnotized for the technique, the knowledge of animal species and its anatomy.
He paints extinct animals around the world, it’s like he doesn’t let them be forgotten. And even more, he brings up the colors of it through the organs that complete his art work. It may sounds crazy for you but for me it is fascinating, imagining to touch and smell…
The base of Roa’s work is black and white what fits perfect in rustic and wood canvas. In Roa’s case, I can say that the details of his art works are like an easy way to see the translation of an artistic concept into draws. This exhibition is the result of his 5 weeks artistic residence at At The Gallery. What I didn’t know was that he was still working on some pieces at that moment as well as that I would find some huge pieces that made me feel like I was back in time.
Roa’s interventions are always discrete and full of impact, it seems like he understands the environment and respects the spaces. I see his work as those kind of pieces for which need time to appreciate and reflect about them. Subjects like: what are we doing with our lives today; where we do we come from and what have we become… At least he provoques things like that in my mind. He builds and destroys images that are fixed in our lives. He brings what some people can call “ugly things of the world” to an atmosphere that the same people can think “it is the portrait of our era”.
Look back, look today and try to figure out the tomorrow.
The last thing I would like to highlight about Roa is his anonymity. Roa has no official website, no official social media and no speculations about his identity. He does what he does and the focus is always on his art work. What makes me admire him even more is the way he creates a dialogue with communities and keeps doing what he believes in. What I got so far is: ROA is not about “likes” or “shares”. But it is such a polemic subject that I will let it for another post.
Roa I couldn’t meet you yet but I can say that it was a pleasure to get so close to you!!
Angela Souza 😀