Pseudo-anonymous artist ROA gains deserved notoriety with the release of a 352-page hardback photobook by Lannoo Publishers. In CODEX, the first overview of the famous street artist’s work is divided into four chapters, each focusing on Eurasia, Africa, America and Oceania, regions where his work can be seen.

ROA began his outdoor activities painting on buildings and warehouses in his hometown of Ghent, Belgium, but today, his signature black-and-white murals can be admired worldwide.

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Known for an abiding obsession with local animal species, ROA's work rapidly gained attention as he cleverly paints birds, rodents and other animals as larger than life inhabitants in urban and natural landscapes. Location and architecture play into each scenario in endless environmental opportunities. Working directly on the wall, ROA rarely uses sketches or projections, and his work always sparks dialogue about environment, architecture, and creativity.

The Belgian artist's sole focus on fauna dominates the village and cityscapes where creatures leap into action, prodding human denizens to consider their too-often-unconsidered lives. In most cases, they represent the more humble rather than the usual stars of a diminishing animal world, like elephants or tigers. Because of their scale and precision, the animals roam robust and animated, rather than trapped or cowering.

Horse Cow Cormorant Ghent Belgium 2008

Fascinated by anatomy, ROA occupies the skin of his subjects to better animate them. The tiniest creatures loom over man-made environments in a triumph of nature over culture, although the sadly ironic reality hovers over the visual triumph. The “dominant species” is not the animal kingdom, but the devious and dangerous human race.

ROA's work composes a cross-cultural dialogue so vital these days. "Exploration of nature, specifically of the animal world, can lead to increased empathy. It teaches you something substantial about how one should live a good life."

Berlin Still Life Hare Heron Roe Deer Ram Boar Berlin Germany 2011

The impact of his bestiaries looms larger, as crucial decisions about the fate of our planetary companions are made every day, around the globe. Dedicated scientists race against time, ‘discovering’ previously unknown flora and fauna in areas threatened by corporate greed and local poverty. ROA's unique combination of aesthetics and eloquent activism offers a significant model for artists everywhere to call attention to a world we know all too little about.

ROA's first photobook with Lannoo Publishers features over 100 works and interventions from across the globe, with text by RJ Rushmore, Lucy R. Lippard, Johan Braeckman and Gwenny Cooman, Robert L. Williams and Kathy De Nève. Codex is available to purchase here.