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BIOGRAPHY

America, b.1979
Los Angeles-based artist RETNA accesses spaces between text-based imagery and abstract emotive states with his mysterious lines of verse. Each block of text is a sophisticated system of hieroglyphs, calligraphy and illuminated script. With influences from Arabic, Egyptian, Hebrew, Anglo-Saxon (or Old English) and Native American typographies, RETNA’s distinctive language communicates a personal form of poetry. RETNA’s messages are masked in ciphers: words and meanings that are never immediately revealed, nor capable of being accurately translated. He employs ancient totemic symbologies as a baseline, overlaid with beats from the urban jungle (sourced from his background in Los Angeles, born from Pipil – western indigenous El Salvadorian – Cherokee, Spaniard, and African-American bloodlines. These diverse subcultures are channeled into his work, often accompanied (either in the studio or on the street) by a stream of ambient or musical sounds. It is this multi-sensory experience that is brushed onto the surface for RETNA: a synthesis of auditory and visual content, spontaneously manifested.

RETNA (Marquis Duriel Lewis) was born in 1979 in Los Angeles. At the age of fifteen, he began painting on posted fashion advertisements and, from there, led one of the largest and most innovative graffiti art collectives in the city. In addition to exhibiting at institutions and galleries in Los Angeles (including the façade of The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s Grand Avenue location for their 2013 Gala celebrating the blockbuster exhibition Art In The Streets), Miami, London, New York (including the prestigious public exhibition space of the Houston-Bowery Wall), and Hong Kong, RETNA has created exclusive collaborations with brands such as VistaJet, Nike, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel. His work appears on the cover of Justin Bieber’s 2015 album Purpose. RETNA lives and works in Los Angeles.

TIMELINE

1979

Born in Los Angeles, CA

1990

Began work as a Graffiti artist

Present

Member of Art Work Rebels, Mad Society Kings, and The Seventh Letter artist collective

EXHIBITIONS

2016

S P E A K E A S Y, Casterline | Goodman Gallery, Aspen, CO

2015

Believe Me When I Tell You I Know Where I’m Coming From, Coney Art Walls, Curated by Jeffrey Deitch & Joseph Sitt, Brooklyn, NY
Articulate & Harmonic Symphonies of the Soul, Hoerle-Guggenheim Gallery, New York, NY

2013

Michael Kohn Gallery Miami, FL
Keith Haring/RETNA, Presented by Andy Valmorbida, exhibition during Art Basel Hong Kong
Mural, in conjunction with The Urs Fischer Exhibition at MOCA, Los Angeles, CA
Mural, Petty Cash Restaurant, Los Angeles, CA
Cash, Cans & Candy, Gallery Hilger NEXT, Vienna, Austria
Urban Art Biennale 2013, Urban Art Biennale, Völklingen

2012

California Photography Now, New Image Art Gallery, West Hollywood, CA 
Juxtapoz Turns 18, Copro Nason Gallery, Santa Monica, CA 
Retna – New Paintings And Works On Paper, Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
A Conversation With A Great Friend, Houston/Bowery Wall, New York, NY
The Boneyard Project: Return Trip, Pima Art and Space Museum, Tucson, AZ

2011

Art in The Streets, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Brimstone, Wynwood District, Miami FL (mural)
The Hallelujah World Tour, Presented by Andy Valmorbida & Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld, New York and London
Nose Job, Curated by Carlo McCormick, Eric Firestone Gallery, East Hampton, NY
West End Rebellion, Scream London, London (England) 
Street Cred: Graffiti Art from Concrete to Canvas, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena, CA 
Street, Robert Berman Gallery, Santa Monica, CA

2010

Freedom, Known Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
DESATURATED, New Image Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
RETNA, Rivera & Rivera, Los Angeles, CA
The Lost Ones, Curated by Marsea Golberg, New Image Art Gallery, Mexico City
VOX HUMANA, L.A. Art Machine, L.A. Art Show, Los Angeles
Of Our Youth, with El Mac, Culver City, CA (mural)
Skid Row Mural, with El Mac and Estevan Oriol, Los Angeles Skid Row, Los Angeles, CA (mural)
Hollywood & Wilton, with El Mac, Los Angeles, CA (mural)
JUSTICE, for Manifest Equality, with El Mac and Kofie, Los Angeles, CA (mural)
Art For All, Malaga, Spain (mural/exhibit)
Ave Maria, with El Mac, Salt Lake City, UT (mural)
Will Rise, Yves Laroche Galerie d’art, Montreal, QC Canada 

2009

Primary Flight III, Miami FL, Margulies Warehouse (mural)
Vagos Y Reinas, with El Mac, Robert Berman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Follow the Line, The Don Gallery Milan Italy
RCVA Headquarters, with El Mac, Costa Mesa, CA (mural)
Memento Mori, with El Mac, Los Angeles, CA (mural)
The Knight, with El Mac, Los Angeles, CA (mural)

2008

Primary Flight II, Miami FL (mural)
Writing alla Ribalta, Milan, Italy (mural)
Low & Slow, Mesa Contemporary Arts, Mesa, AZ

2007

Letters First ’07, Bread & Butter, Barcelona, Spain
Primary Flight I, Art Basel-Miami, FL (mural)
From La With Love, Interior Installation, A+D Museum, Los Angeles, CA

2006

Sexta Feria del Libro en el Zócalo, Mexico City, Mexico (mural)

2005

Wall Street Journals, White Walls Gallery San Francisco
Superiority Complex, Scion Installation Gallery Culver City
Read the writing on our walls, Greystone Pacific Design Center
Identity and Inspiration, Millard Sheets Gallery, Pamona
Urban Edge Show, Milan, Italy

2004

Application, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Australia

2003

The Seventh Letter, E.S.P. Tokyo, Japan.
Street Dreams, Ghetto Gloss Gallery. Los Angeles

2000

Graffiti Art: The Auction, Guernsey’s, New York, NY
Contemporary Corruption II, Zero One Gallery. Los Angeles, CA
Sarcastic, Tokyo, Japan. installation.

1999

East Meets West, Martinez Gallery. New York
Contemporary Corruption, Zero One Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

1997

DADA, Los Angeles – Installation.

SELECTED ARTICLES/PUBLICATIONS

2015

W Magazine, June/July 2015

2014

Architectural Digest, Cover
Language Arts, C California Style Magazine

2013

LA Artists to Watch, Los Angeles Confidential
Fresco Magazine, Cover and feature

2012

RETNA Paints The Bowery Graffiti Wall, Replacing Faile, Huffington Post
Retna Mural on Bowery & Houston, NYC, Juxtapoz

2011

Art in the Streets sets record for MOCA, LA Times
Shepard Fairy, street artists brighten West Hollywood library, LA Times
Graffiti Artist Retna’s World of Words, Black Book
A Street Artist’s Fashion Week Debut, The Daily Beast
The Q & A: Retna, The Economist
Installation/Set-up – Hallelujah World Tour, Arrested Motion
Wingspan by Retna and El Mac, Miami Herald
Man One and Retna at Folwer Musuem, LA Times

2010

Best Public Art of 2010, Miami New Times

2009

Graffiti artists make their Art Basel mark, Miami Herald (US) Winners & Losers,
Biscayne Times (US)
944 (US) Primary Flight
Alianza: Retna & Mac, Upper Playground/Ginko Press (US) Status (US) issue 06 –
Indiepreneur Issue

2008

Mynameis, (UK)
The Radar Art, Angeleno (US)
Bliss (US) Cover / feature
On These Gallery Walls Graffiti, LA Times (US) Tarot, Swindle (US)
Feature “Mural Art”, Kiriakos Iosifidis, (Greece) Publikat

2007

Graffiti LA: Street Styles and Art, Steve Grody (US) The Rise of the
Seventh Letter, LA Weekly (US)
The Seventh Letter Issue, Juxtapoz (US) Streetwise, LA
Times (US) Feature Catch Me if You Can Magazine (US)

2006

Greystone Home Collection, California Homes (US) Inner City Arts,
California Home + Design (US) Freestyle, Rime (US) feature

2005

Retna, Warp Magazine (Japan) feature

2003

Dialect of the Scribes, Lit Magazine (US) cover / feature