Street Artist ROA’s Incredible Black and White Animal Murals Are Now Immortalized in a Book

London, 2009 (Photo: Romany WG)
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For over a decade, Belgian street artist ROA has been painting his black and white murals of animals around the world. Moving from abandoned warehouses to giant building facades, his murals have made him one of the most sought after street artists in the world. Now, there's finally a book to document some of his most remarkable works. As the first book to present an overview of his work, CODEX looks at how ROA's art has spread internationally. Divided into four chapters, the book explores different parts of the world where ROA has worked and it shows his unique way of integrating art in public spaces.

While at first glance, one might dismiss ROA's work as simple paintings of animals, there's much more to be had when they're examined closely. His love for local fauna is immediately evident, as is his skill for allowing these animals to dialogue with their surroundings. Each piece perfectly integrates into the environment and ROA uses architectural elements as an opportunity rather than a hindrance.

“ROA treats each surface he paints like a space to investigate, play with, and fit his creatures into. The technical perfection of his painting belies an underlying resourcefulness with simple tools,” writes RJ Rushmore in the introduction. “The animals are matched to their location, with rats in New York City and elephants in Bangkok. There are dark and funny messages, the beauty of both life and death, universal metaphors, inside jokes, and occasional violence, but always in ways that honor the animals and the spaces where they are painted.”

One thing that becomes clear while flipping through the pages is ROA's insatiable need to create. From birds and bunnies to insects and rodents, the animals that fill the book spread across large facades and small niches. Whether shown fully or just via their skeletons, the animals are a clear expression of ROA's imagination. Impressively, in a time when street art has gone mainstream, ROA has continued to work without compromising his quality or his beliefs.

“Exploration of nature,” he says, “more specifically of the animal world, can lead to increased empathy. It teaches you something substantial about how one should live a good life.”

Belgian street artist ROA is known for his black and white depictions of animals.

Puerto Rico Street Art

Puerto Rico, 2012.

Atlanta Street Art by ROAD

Atlanta, 2011.

ROA Street Art Book

Lexington, 2014.

ROA Street Art

Las Vegas, 2014

ROA Street Art in Perth

Perth, 2014.

His new book CODEX gives an overview of his murals around the world.

ROA Street Art in South Africa

Johannesburg, 2012.

Belgian Street Art

Ghent, 2010.

ROA Street Art

Vardo, 2012.

ROA Mural in Sao Paulo

São Paulo, 2013.

And looks at how he became one of the world's most sought after street artists.


Rochester, 2012.

ROA Street Art in Bangkok

Bangkok, 2016.

ROA Mural in Los Angeles

Los Angeles, 2009.

Book About Street Artist ROA

Lannoo Publishers: Website 

All images by ROA except where noted. My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Lannoo Publishers.

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150 Street Artists Decorate Old Tunisian Village with Spectacular Murals

Street Artist Transforms Abandoned Factory into a “Mausoleum of Giants”

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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