Belgian 1976–<br/>
<em>Platypus</em> 2012<br/>
enamel and synthetic polymer paint<br/>
© Courtesy of the artist

How a trapped platypus came to be in Gallery Kitchen

Belgian 1976–

Internationally recognised street artist ROA was in Melbourne recently and the National Gallery of Victoria took the opportunity of commissioning him to create a mural for the Gallery Kitchen – the ground floor café at NGV International. Along with the mural in the  Crossbar Café at NGV Australia by Melbourne artist Miso, also recently commissioned, these works demonstrate the NGV’s commitment to presenting contemporary art in all its forms.

Best known for his poignant and evocative depictions of animals ROA’s work is typically found on the walls of abandoned buildings and features in major cities across the world. He is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential artists working in this genre.

I first became aware of ROA’s distinctive work when I discovered a wall he had painted in Kreuzberg, Berlin, and since then have followed his practice. While ROA was in Melbourne for a small solo exhibition at Backwoods Gallery late last year I made a point of catching up with him and, on the NGV’s behalf, invited him to undertake the commission.

ROA has a genuine interest in the welfare of animals and his work typically expresses the plight of the fauna local to the sites of his murals. While in Australia he spent a good deal of time at Melbourne’s Healesville Sanctuary where he talked with the keepers and vets about some of our more vulnerable indigenous wildlife.

ROA completed Trapped platypus in a five hour session on the night of 5 December 2012.