Retna Artwork for Sale

Marquis Lewis’ mother sent him to Catholic School in Los Angeles to keep him out of trouble. It didn’t stop him from becoming obsessed with the graffiti he saw along the L.A. freeways, but it did teach him good penmanship…and led to a fabulous career as a contemporary artist. The Old English characters that many of the graffiti artists used, was taken from the LA Times, and he found the look and elegance of the letters intriguing. As he got […]

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Retna

Marquis Lewis’ mother sent him to Catholic School in Los Angeles to keep him out of trouble. It didn’t stop him from becoming obsessed with the graffiti he saw along the L.A. freeways, but it did teach him good penmanship…and led to a fabulous career as a contemporary artist. The Old English characters that many of the graffiti artists used, was taken from the LA Times, and he found the look and elegance of the letters intriguing.

As he got older and began to tag around L.A., he heard the Wu Tang Song, Heaterz. The line, “burns your retina” stuck with him and he took the tag, Retna. Retna became infatuated with calligraphy and the alphabets of ancient and modern cultures and has studied written texts for the past twenty years.

“I want my text to feel universal.” Retna says, “I want people from different cultures to all find some similarity in it — whether they can read it or not.”

Retna says that because of his mixed ethnic background of African-American, El Salvadorian and Cherokee ancestry, he never felt as if he fit in, and that he gravitated towards creating text that, ”was universal and that anyone could relate to”. He developed an alphabet of his own, based on his study of Asian calligraphy, the Hebrew and Arabic alphabets, ancient Incan and Egyptian hieroglyphics and pichacao, the Brazilian graffiti style.

At age 34, Retna has shown his work in galleries in L.A., New York, Miami, London and Hong Kong. His work has a universal appeal and has been coveted by corporations as well as private collectors.

“I think once people are more familiar with my work,” he says, “they can understand it. The more you familiarize yourself with, you start to see, ‘okay there’s the ‘S’, there’s an ‘E’, there’s a ‘V’. I’ve ran into a couple of people that are really able to read the stuff, and it always surprises me.”

A good example of the clarity that Retna is able to get from his alphabet, can be seen in the mural he did for Louis Vuitton. Retna has also design fabric for scarves for the company.He’s also been commissioned by Nike and Chanel.

Last year, Shepard Fairey put together a “Provocateurs Show” as part of Lollapalooza. He invited Retna and other street and graffiti artists, who push the boundaries of art, to participate. One of the most provocative works from the show is a serigraph by Retna, which we are fortunate to have in our gallery.

“I want my text to feel universal.” Retna says, “I want people from different cultures to all find some similarity in it — whether they can read it or not.”

Retna pichacao

A wall tagged with pichacao, the unique style of graffiti artists in Brazilian cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
FOTO: JOAO WAINER

Retna’s work at Art Basel Miami, 2011

Retna’s work at Art Basel Miami, 2011

Retna in Arch Digest

October 9, 2014 Architectural Digest, showing actress Ellen Pompeo’s Retna on the cover.

Retna Prints

Retna’s easy-to-read mural for Louis Vuitton

Retna’s Chanel mural

Retna’s Chanel mural

Retna Prints for Sale

Retna painting the Chanel store in Beverly Hills

Retna Supra

Supra partnered with longtime friend and acclaimed Los Angeles graffiti writer, Retna for “The Retna Society,” a limited edition release.

Retna Artwork

As part of a partnership with VistaJet & Bombardier Aerospace, 31 year old Los Angeles street artist RETNA has hand-painted a unique artwork on the tail of a $60 million VistaJet Global Express XRS as part of his Hallelujah World Tour.

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