Belgian street artist ROA specialises in portraying animals — especially those who have been pushed out of their natural habitats by the encroachment of urban developments. For his latest show, at Jonathan LeVine Gallery in New York, Ghent-born ROA has paid tribute to NY’s official state animal, the beaver, after the species was rediscovered in the region having previously been thought extinct. Often including anatomical details such as internal organs and skeletal structures which bring to mind the man-made deaths of roadkill, his creatures are prone, and at the mercy of the viewer, but the inclusion of the beaver suggests that all is not lost, and that man’s effect on the natural world need not be terminally destructive. This series of sculptural paintings, known collectively as Metazoa, suggests the fate of the animals is far from certain; through the use of sliding panels, hinges and mirrors, the menagerie exists as both alive and dead simultaneously.
As part of the event, ROA, who began his career painting abandoned warehouses and factories, is painting a public mural at a building owned by Mana Contemporary in New Jersey on the approach to the Holland Tunnel. The gallery exhibition on West 20th Street, NYC, runs until 2 May.