Contemporary graffiti artist RETNA (American, b.1979) was introduced to the Los Angeles mural scene at an early age, and has lead one of the largest graffiti art collectives in the city since he was in high school. 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.

ETNA was born in Los Angeles, from El Salvadorian, Cherokee, Spaniard and African American bloodlines. 

 

The artist has exhibited at venues throughout the world, with shows at L.A. Art Machine in Los Angeles, CA; Don Gallery in Milan, Italy; Yves Laroche Galerie d’Art in Montreal, Canada; and Art for All in Malaga, Spain; among others.

 

This American street artist is known for his unique typography and letterforms where each block of text is a sophisticated system of script, culled from hieroglyphs, calligraphy and illuminated lettering. With influences ranging from Arabic, Egyptian, Hebrew, Old English, and Native American mythologies, RETNA's unique vocabulary communicates a particular narrative.   In his cryptic words, letters, and messages, he reflects aspects of a harsh reality of urban life.   Yet he is in tune to a sophisticated and metaphysical connectedness that draws inspiration from poignant relevance of historical cannons. RETNA employs ancient totemic symbologies as a baseline, overlaid with rhythms he perceives as compartmentalized sequences of letters to hypothetically vocalize significances deemed important enough to manifest into works of art.  

Kiss 88, a 72 x 72-inch oil and mixed media on canvas painting not only exhibits elements of Retna’s coded alphabet but introduces new contemporary materials and techniques.  Colored tape weaved within, above, and under the mark making adds a raised element to the surface while adding notes of audacious decisions.

Exhibitions

2013

Cash, Cans & Candy / Gallery Hilger NEXT, Vienna, Austria

2013

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

2011

“West End Rebellion” - Scream London, London (England)
Street Cred: Graffiti Art from Concrete to Canvas - Pasadena Museum of California Art- PMCA, Pasadena, CA
Art in the Streets - The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles, CA
Street - Robert Berman Gallery, Santa Monica, CA

2010

Vox Humana, L.A. Art Machine, L.A. Art Show, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Desaturated, New Image Art, Los Angeles, CA, USA (solo)
Installation, Rivera and Rivera, Los Angeles, CA, USA
The Lost Ones, FIFTY24MX, Condesa, Mexico
Will Rise, Yves Laroche Galerie d’art, Montreal, QC, Canada
VOX HUMANA, L.A. Art Machine, L.A. Art Show, Los Angeles, USA
Street Legal, Rivera & Rivera Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
Art For All Malaga, Spain

2009

Primary Flight III, Margulies Warehouse, Miami, FL, USA
Follow the Line, The Don Gallery, Milan, Italy
"Vagos y Reinas" Gallery C2, Robert Berman Gallery, CA ( September 26-October 18 2009)

2008

Writing alla Ribalta, Milan, Italy
Low & Slow, Mesa Contemporary Arts, Mesa, AZ, USA
Primary Flight II, Art Basel, Miami, FL, USA

2007

Letters First '07, Bread & Butter, Barcelona, Spain
From L.A. With Love, Interior Installation, A+D Museum, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Primary Flight I, Art Basel, Miami, FL, USA
He contributed to a large-scale mural project with El Mac and Reyes called "La Reina del Sur" at Miami's Art Basel.

2006

Mendenhall Sobieski Gallery, Pasadena, CA
Sexta Feria del Libro en el Zócalo, Mexico City, Mexico

2005

Wall Street Journals, White Walls Gallery San Francisco, USA
Superiority Complex, Scion Installation Gallery Culver City, USA
Read the writing on our walls, Greystone Pacific Design Center, USA
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, USA

2000

Graffiti Art Auction, Guernseys New York, USA
Sarcastic, Tokyo, Japan
Contemporary Corruption Show at 01 Gallery in Los Angeles.

1999

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

1997

DADA, Los Angeles, USA