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RETNA is perhaps best known for appropriating fashion advertisements which he layers and complicates with intricate line work, text-based additions and an incandescent color palette. Although the text-like signs that appear in this silk-screen print do not signify a specific meaning or relate to a specific language, RETNA’s “texts” are meant to suggest universal comprehensibility by virtue of their forms’ familiarity. His particular type of paleography marries Hebrew, Asian, and Hieroglyphic texts. By doing so, he unifies the fundamentals of the present day written word for several different cultures, creating a form of Esperanto that speaks across languages.
Published by Smogtown, Los Angeles, CA
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RETNA, born Marquis Lewis, (American, b. 1978) was introduced to Los Angeles's mural culture at a very early age. While still in high school, he led one of the largest and most innovative graffiti art collectives the city has known. As an integral part of the Los Angeles art scene since the mid-1990s, RETNA has participated in over thirty international exhibitions and has contributed to countless public murals including the Houston/Bowery wall in New York City (2012). Yielding an unmistakable aesthetic that integrates appropriated contemporary photography, graffiti, traditional painting, and a unique glyphic style, he has emerged as one of the most prolific graffiti artists in the contemporary art world.