Marquis Duriel Lewis, better known as Los Angeles-based street artist Retna, enjoys a global reputation as one of the most prominent and wealthy street artists of our time. His work has featured all over a Louis Vuitton store in Miami, an opera house in San Francisco, Los Angeles’ Olympic bid video and even Justin Bieber’s latest album cover.
Born in 1979, Retna was introduced to the Los Angeles mural scene at an early age and has led one of the largest graffiti art collectives in the city since he was in high school. Rather than attend art school, he focused on street art, and soon became a global sensation.
Retna now travels the world creating street art, and also produces contemporary art pieces on canvas, some of which are on display in art galleries, museums, luxury retailers and even homes of the rich and famous.
There is a very healthy audience looking to buy Retna art and invest significant sums in it. This level of demand suggests great things for the artist’s future, and good potential returns for individuals who purchase Retna artwork sooner rather than later.
We’re proud to represent Retna in the UK and share his incredible works with the public. His pieces are consistently snapped up almost as soon as they land on our walls, but our strong relationship with the artist means that we often have a number of pieces available to purchase, and can also commission totally unique works to be produced upon request.
If you’re looking to invest in Retna, please visit us at Maddox Gallery, Mayfair, in the heart of London and only steps away from Oxford Circus. His works should be seen in person to be truly appreciated, and we will be more than happy to talk you through his works in detail.
Retna art is always a varied composition, incorporating intricate line work, complex layering and a powerful range of colour. He incorporates elements of fine art, graffiti, visual linguistics and urban poetics to purvey a timeless and unique power.
His artwork has explored an eclectic range of media, including graffiti, sculpture and photography. What features in all of them, however, is Retna’s unique script which resembles many different languages, but belongs to no one culture.
Retna has taken inspiration from cultures around the world, crediting ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics as inspiration for his art, as well as traditional Native American symbols, Arabic script, gothic blackletter and the Hebrew alphabet.
The result is something which is to be truly appreciated up close, and represents a kind of unity between different cultures, reflecting the nature of LA as a cultural melting pot.
“I always studied ancient cultures because I was born of mixed race, but I always felt I was part of the world,” Retna has explained.
“I want my text to feel universal. I want people from different cultures to all find some similarity in it — whether they can read it or not.”
As well as adorning buildings around the world, Retna art has been exhibited at prestigious venues including L.A. Art Machine in Los Angeles, CA; Don Gallery in Milan, Italy; Yves Laroche Galerie d’Art in Montreal, Canada; Art for All in Malaga, Spain; and of course, Maddox Gallery in Mayfair, London.
The artist is also a huge commercial success, working with brands such as Nike, Louis Vuitton and Helmut Lang. He has even transformed an aircraft as part of a sponsorship by VistaJet. Recently, Retna moved into the music industry, branching out into yet another creative venture, designing the artwork for a Justin Bieber album cover. He has also been named as the San Francisco Opera’s newest artistic director.
Retna even featured in the official video which pitched LA to host the Olympic Games in 2024. The video showcased the best of LA’s unique talent, and Retna’s calligraphy has truly become a signature style not only of the artist, but of the city itself.
Blockbuster film ‘Black Panther’ took significant inspiration from RETNA’s own script.
The fictional civilization of Wakanda was given its own distinct written language, based on the ancient Nigerian language of Nsibidi and incorporating elements of Chinese, Arabic and South African tribal art.
“I started looking at different cave drawings, we looked at LA graffiti artist Retna and were inspired by his being able to create these characters that were fresh,” explains production designer Hannah Beachler.
“It was a process of trying to pay homage to lost languages but also infusing the idea of Afrofuturism of reclaiming languages lost.”
With more than fifteen years of prolific work behind him, Retna began his street art career before broadband internet even existed. However, the artist’s social media presence has arguably played a significant part in his rise to fame as a self-made celebrity.
Retna art resides on buildings, signs and walls around LA and elsewhere in the world, since he is first and foremost a street artist. With this in mind, Instagram provides the perfect opportunity for these works to gain a global audience. LA Confidential Magazine even named Retna as one of the most influential Instagram stars in LA, a city packed full of creatives and celebrities.
Retna’s Instagram feed features everything from behind-the-scenes snaps at fashion shoots and gallery exhibition launches to interior design shots and graffiti-adorned buildings. Many thousands of posts on other Instagram accounts also feature Retna artwork, showing the extent of the online hype that surrounds him both in LA and internationally. If you wish to discover more about the artist, we highly recommend you take a look at his social presence.