Marquis Lewis, better know as Retna is a Los Angeles graffiti writer who in recent years has become a star of the contemporary art world, with commissions by Usher and other hollywood stars. His work can be found in galleries everywhere from New York to Hong Kong, and has even done work for clients such as Nike, Louis Vuitton, and VistaJet.
His paintings which appear to be an assortment of complex line work, are actually a paragraph made up of characters in his own unique alphabet. The alphabet consist of unique conscript characters based black letter, Egyptian hieroglyphics, LA graffiti hand styles, and both arabic, and hebrew calligraphy.
Retna comes from a heavy gang affiliated part of LA, where he spend his youth as a graffiti writer, and developed a true love for typography. Retna has never openly translated his work, but he notes that if you study the work enough you, can actually decipher it.
Retna’s exhibition in the MOCA consisted of two large murals spelling out the names of the artist that has influenced his work