Art | Story by Zoneil Maharaj
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Belgian Street Artist ROA Goes Native

Photo by Anthony Mair

Photo by Anthony Mair

Surveying Belgian artist ROA’s intricately detailed black-and-white murals, you’d think he got his education at a fine arts institute. Instead, the enigmatic street artist—he never reveals his face in photos—came up bombing walls and running from cops. “Being free, listening to hip-hop and having a skateboard, that was it,” he says. At 38, things haven’t changed much, except that he’s traded tagging his name for giant animals, and he (usually) gets permission first. “This is my form of graffiti,” he says. “It’s a continuation of painting walls. You paint for a long time and you get better and better, and grow as an artist.” That growth is manifested along Stewart Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets where a Godzilla-sized horned lizard, chosen because it’s native to desert life, stalks half of the block. A man of few words, ROA doesn’t expound on the significance of his art. “I don’t make the world into a more beautiful place, I make it a more interesting place.”