Birth Name: Marquis Lewis
Born: 1979, Los Angeles
Born Marquis Lewis in 1979 in Los Angeles of African-American, Salvadorian and Cherokee decent, Lewis moved between several schools in the L.A. area, becoming more involved in graffiti culture at each location. In 1996, he chose the name RETNA from a Wu-Tang Clan lyric.
RETNA cites eclectic artistic influences such as illuminated manuscripts, Renaissance imagery, and contemporary text-based art. Religious architecture and décor have long been a focus of his. He has mentioned Edgar Degas, Gustav Klimt, JM Basquiat, Keith Haring and the Art Nouveau movement as historical references.
RETNA has developed a constructed script which he uses in much of his work. Each block of text is a system of hieroglyphs, calligraphy and illuminated script that has been influenced by Arabic calligraphy, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Hebrew, Blackletter, and Native American typographies. RETNA's script communicates personal messages and poetry which are not immediately decipherable to a pedestrian audience. His hieroglyphic style artwork has also been seen in the Lower East Side on the Rivington Street Wall near Bowery.
Through the appropriation of fashion advertisements, RETNA reinvents them with intricate line work, complex layering, and a powerful range of color. Incorporating elements of Fine Art and graffiti into his varied compositions, RETNA combines visual linguistics, urban poetics, and a timeless, unique power, exploring an eclectic range of media, including graffiti, photography, and painting.
In 2011, RETNA contributed to the overall graphic and visual arts elements for the re-opening of a Nike store in Las Vegas.
In October 2012, RETNA was commissioned by the fashion design firm Louis Vuitton to create signage for their temporary Miami Design District boutique. The project was a collaboration with street artists Aiko and Os Gêmeos, and included the design of scarves and accessories.
The airline company VistaJet commissioned RETNA to decorate the tailfin of the VistaJet Global Express XRS with his signature script. Since its completion, the vessel's value is estimated at $60 million. The completed project was unveiled in 2012 in Geneva.
RETNA has exhibited at venues throughout the world, with shows in Los Angeles, Milan, Montreal and Malaga among others. The artist is also associated with the Art Work Rebels and Mad Society Kings Art Groups and is also a member of the internationally exclusive art collective The Seventh Letter.