After his sell out show “The Hallelujah World Tour”, RETNA has reached the star status of a hot new contemporary graffiti artist. As we have some amazing new limited editions just in we thought we would take a closer look at his work.
As a young man growing up in L.A., RETNA managed to avoid the lure of gangs and started painting murals on the streets and trains in his neighbourhood. Of African-American, El Salvadorian and Cherokee descent he took the name the name RETNA from a Wu-Tang Clan song.
Fascinated by the formation of lettering, RETNA (AKA Marquis Lewis) is inspired by influences as broad as graffiti on the streets, to art nouveau, to the ancient texts of the Egyptians. He has subsequently created a language of his own and it is this amazing calligraphy that forms the foundation of much of his work.
The lettering is beautifully formed and is repeated in various ways, imbuing his own meaning based on his personal experiences of growing up in LA. It is up to the viewer to interpret their own meaning, as he offers no translation we are left to make up our own minds.
“These Are The Days”, a limited edition print of just 9, is an example of the unique alphabet that he has created inspired by Old English text, hieroglyphs, Arabic and Asian calligraphy and graffiti. The text is covered with diamond dust that evokes the translucence of stain glass windows.
His first show was in 1997 and he has since stormed the contemporary art scene. His work is now collected by the rich and famous, including Usher and the director of MOCA. Graffiti has now become accepted as an integral part of contemporary art and it is artists such as Retna that has earned graffiti a place on the walls of art galleries around the world.