The world of street art has never seized to amaze due to big names such Retna a legendary studio and American street artist. He came up with a distinctively constructed script which he incorporates in his murals and paintings. The visual appeal and uniqueness of his work have made him one of the most praised street artists with a great reputation which has enabled him to work with high-end clients and campaigns. His style was born from a simple idea which involved transforming the ordinary graffiti into a style that appeals to individuals with a good eye for art.
LA Graffiti Culture
Having been born in Los Angeles, Marquis has African-American, Cherokee, and El Salvadorian origins. In his childhood, he studied in various schools within LA area where he became obsessed graffiti culture. Retna is pseudonym which he chose from a lyric in one of the popular Wu-Tang Clan’s songs in 1996. The name itself portrays visual vibrancy, timeless power, and dynamics of his magical work. His projects are mysterious and bring together various unique aspects which include paint, photography and graffiti style, fluidity and grit, spirit and sensation as well as street culture and fashion. Whether his artwork hangs on street walls or galleries in various cities in the world including Los Angeles, it acts as a retina that allows individuals to view the journal of contemporary art.
Marquis was introduced Los Angeles’ mural culture and urban art at a very early age. At high school level, he became a leading member of one of the most respected and famous graffiti collectives ever seen in the city. He is well known for conducting fashion advertisements and fueling them with his exceptional text-based style, intricate lines as well as incandescent color palette portraying an extensive artistic culture. His distinctive, original and identifiable script has contributed significantly to his popularity. His work comprises elements of Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Blackletter, Arabic and Hebrew calligraphy and other traditional styles of street graffiti. Setting eyes on his work for the first time it looks like unknown ancient script comprising complex, gorgeous and captivating hypotonic symbols.
Retna has worked on a wide range of projects which include Renaissance imagery, illuminated manuscript, and modern text-based artistic projects. He is known for his obsession with religious décor and architecture. Marquis has cited legends such as Haring, Klimt, Dega, Basquait and the Art Nouveau movement in his work. Famous Street artists such as Saber and David Choe have greatly inspired and influenced the success of his graffiti writing work. However, it is not easy to tell who has the most influence among the legends that inspired his work since Marquis’ artwork is unique and magically incorporates modern and classic style.
Retna stands out as a unique artist due to his variegated painting technique and timeless style that involve the use of a spray can and a painting brush. Most of his artwork is mysterious and makes it hard to tell the difference between graffiti and pure art, modern and traditional, power and opposition as well as future and historical. He was once asked to explain what inspires his work and he said it was mostly things revolving in his mind. He added that it could be anything ringing in his mind such as a poem or music.
Marquis started realizing his dream in 2000 when he had his first group exhibition at the contemporary corruption show which was held at the 01 Gallery in LA. Today, his work has exploded traversing between popular galleries and street art circles. He is an active member of The Seventh letter an international exclusive collective that inspires street art all over the world and also works closely with the Mad Society King’s art Groups and Art Work Labels. He has also gotten attention from celebrities such as Usher an R&B musician who hired him to create Marvin Gaye portrait. Retna also worked with the famous musician Justin Beiber to create a cover of his highly anticipated album known as Purpose. He covered a photograph of Justin Beiber nude with his calligraphic scripts to create the final design of the album cover.
Some of the factors that have contributed to Retna’s success in artwork include deep knowledge and interest in graffiti and street art which allowed him to come up with a way of affecting his audience and also attract undivided attention. His work involves creating a script in a way that resembles creating a new language. His scripts comprises mysterious ancient symbols which blend with modern lines to look like graphic designs that individuals are bound to interpret or simply enjoy the beauty .