It’s part of the human nature to investigate, to research, to break the boundaries of “the unknown”. Many endeavors aimed to discover new territories and new people ended up in destruction, blood, death. The central point of the upcoming ROA exhibition at Melbourne-based Backwoods Gallery is the representation of the relationship between the humankind’s sense of wonder and the destructive footprint left in its path. When we speak about exploring and discovering the “unknown world”, a number of adventurous explorers discovered “new territories” (African lands, Pacific Islands, Australia). The consequences of these great discoveries were devastating for indigenous people, animals, and even lands. They were colonized, including the huge continent of Australia. Backwoods Gallery presents the Hic Sunt Dracones exhibition, featuring works by ROA dealing with the dichotomy between the human will to discover, and bloody footprints it leaves during these discoveries.
ROA is a graffiti and street artist coming from Gent, Belgium. He has been creating worldwide, and his murals usually depicting fauna made him one of the most renowned street artists of our time. But, it’s very important to mention ROA’s background in terms of his personal interests - he wanted to be an archeologist, and he used to collect little skulls from birds and rodents, taking them home to draw. So, in his heart, ROA is also a zoologist, archeologist, and an explorer. That is why he is best-known for his famous animals – he usually paints wild/urban animals and birds that are native to the area being painted. Being interested in zoology and in humans’ will to discover, ROA investigates the consequences of the new environment caused by European discoveries. This is not a comfortable position, since as a European, the artist had to find a way to escape from the Euro-centric discourse, which he perfectly did with his beautiful artworks.
Hic Sunt Dracones (Here Be Dragons in Latin) is the name of ROA exhibition at Backwoods Gallery. The artist traces the remains of European expeditions to all the continents (including Australia) in order to understand the consequences of these expeditions to the colonized land, colonized people, and colonized fauna. Australia’s animals were in particular perceived as supernatural demeanor, which perfectly suits the artist’s concept. What the first expeditors believed when they saw Australian animals? How did they describe them? How did they illustrate them? The answers to these questions can be found in ROA’a magnificent artworks. So, ROA travels back in time to the centuries of great geographical discoveries, becoming an expeditor, and seeing for the first time the animals, his favorite subject-matters that live in the lands of the unknown.
Backwoods Gallery organized a number of extraordinary exhibitions in the last couple of months. For example, the Gallery organized the exhibition of Deams titled In the Fold that was on view until May; it also organized a group exhibition titled A Study of Darkness (was on view until March 27). The exhibition Hic Sunt Dracones featuring works by ROA is the latest show by this great Belgian artist. It will be on view from June 3 until June 19, 2016 at Backwoods Gallery in Melbourne. The opening reception is schedule for Friday, June 3, 6-10pm.
Featured Images: ROA exhibition at Backwoods Gallery. All Images courtesy of Backwoods Gallery.