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Marquis Lewis: a.k.a Retna

Written by  //  January 3, 2011  //  Art Category  //  4 Comments

alianza-mac-and-retna_i7

Photo Credit: Kohshin Finley

The name Retna evokes the visual vibrancy behind the illustrations created by Artist Marquis Lewis.

Lewis, better known as Retna, is an LA native who has taken the art world by storm. His innovative style combines a mixture of mediums to create an art form that easily traverses the line between gallery art and street art. Lewis merges photography with painting by using vibrant colors and captivating images to tell stories through his artwork. This unique style has been featured in galleries across the country and in music videos. His art has even been displayed as murals on building sides, and in magazine ads. Lewis’ art is easily transferable because of its versatility. He finds a balance by painting with fluidity and technique but at the same time keeping an underlying graffiti edge to his artwork.

Of Our Youth/RETNA/MAC/Culver City Mural July 2010

Photo Credit: Kohshin Finley

The distinct style behind his success came from his early introduction to LA’s mural culture. While in high school, Lewis’ intrigue with the culture caused him to lead one of the largest and most innovative graffiti art collectives the city of LA has ever known.  In the mid-1990s, the artist painted numerous bridges and freeway overpasses throughout the city. His graffiti not only caught the eye of citizens, but also sparked the interest of several elites in the art world. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston offered Lewis a full-scholarship due to his rise to fame at a young age, but he turned the scholarship down for the fear of losing the graffiti “territory” that he earned on the west coast. 

RETNA and EL MAC have teamed up for a mural, in Culver City. Their newest mural, titled Of Our Youth, can be seen on the side of Graphaids art supply store, on La Cienega between Jefferson and Washington. (Photo Credit: Kohshin Finley)

For most artists, declining professional training would’ve hindered their careers, but for Lewis, his method of self-motivation led to his famous art style. Lewis is known for layering fashion advertisements with intricate line work and incandescent color designs. One of the most creative aspects to Lewis’ art is his use of a graffiti-style font that he created based on Latin, Asian calligraphy, and Egyptian hieroglyphics. The mystery font is not purely a visually appealing design, each symbol in the text has its own meaning. On Miamiherald.com, Lewis explains that the unknown symbols tell hidden stories that go along with each piece of artwork.

“Some people think it is just design, and they don’t know there is an actual message in them,” he said. “I was inspired by life in general, people, the written language and creating cool narratives that some people don’t see.”

Lewis uses paintbrushes, spray cans, and photographs to adorn Miami, LA, Salt Lake City, New York, Japan, Milan, Las Vegas, Australia, San Francisco, Mexico, Seoul, Barcelona, Melbourne, and Taipei. Besides being featured in galleries across the world, his artwork has also been acclaimed by many celebrities. Several of Lewis’ paintings hang adorn the walls of R&B Singer Usher’s home. Lewis’ work also appeared on the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards alongside Heavy Metal Band Metallica, where Lewis created a signature piece live on stage. Lewis’ art has also served as the backdrop in Singer Kylie Mynogue’s music video for “Red Blooded Woman” and Rapper/Actor Will Smith’s music video for “Switch.”

Marquis Lewis has a style that is embraced on urban city streets as well as elite art galleries. His style is accessible in all settings because he has earned credibility in all venues. Lewis has earned street cred as a well-known graffiti artist all the while, capturing the attention of professionals in the art world through his remarkable detail and self-perfected technique. It is undeniable that Lewis will continue to find innovative ways to take his artwork to a whole new level.

For more information: The name Retna evokes the visual vibrancy behind the illustrations created by Artist Marquis Lewis.

Lewis, better known as Retna, is an LA native who has taken the art world by storm. His innovative style combines a mixture of mediums to create an art form that easily traverses the line between gallery art and street art. Lewis merges photography with painting by using vibrant colors and captivating images to tell stories through his artwork. This unique style has been featured in galleries across the country and in music videos. His art has even been displayed as murals on building sides, and in magazine ads. Lewis’ work is easily transferable because of its versatility; Lewis finds a balance by painting with fluidity and technique but keeping an underlying graffiti edge to his artwork.

Located on 6th and Crocker, in the heart of Skid Row, the mural serves as both a tribute to the community members and as a reminder of the perseverance of Skid Row’s homeless.

The distinct style behind his success came  through his early introduction to LA’s mural culture. While in high school, Lewis’ intrigue with the culture caused him to lead one of the largest and most innovative graffiti art collectives the city of LA has ever known.  In the mid-1990s, the artist painted numerous bridges and freeway overpasses throughout the city. His graffiti not only caught the eye of citizens, but also sparked the interest of several elites in the art world. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston offered Lewis a full-scholarship due to his rise to fame at a young age, but he turned the scholarship down for the fear of losing the graffiti “territory” he had earned on the west coast. 

For most artists, declining professional training would’ve hindered their careers, but for Lewis, his method of self-motivation led to his famous art style. Lewis is best known for layering fashion advertisements with intricate line work and incandescent color designs. One of the most creative aspects to Lewis’ art is his use of a graffiti-style font that he created based on Latin, Asian calligraphy, and Egyptian hieroglyphics. The mystery font is not purely a visually appealing design, each symbol in the text has its own meaning. On Miamiherald.com, Lewis explains that the unknown symbols tell hidden stories that go along with each piece of artwork.

“Some people think it is just design, and they don’t know there is an actual message in them,” he said. “I was inspired by life in general, people, the written language and creating cool narratives that some people don’t see.”

Lewis uses paintbrushes, spray cans, and photographs to adorn Miami, LA, Salt Lake City, New York, Japan, Milan, Las Vegas, Australia, San Francisco, Mexico, Seoul, Barcelona, Melbourne, and Taipei. Besides being featured in galleries across the world, his artwork has also been acclaimed by many celebrities. Several of Lewis’ paintings hang adorn the walls of R&B Singer Usher’s home. Lewis’ work also appeared on the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards alongside Heavy Metal Band Metallica, where Lewis created a signature piece live on stage. Lewis’ art has also served as the backdrop in Singer Kylie Mynogue’s music video for “Red Blooded Woman” and Rapper/Actor Will Smith’s music video for “Switch.”

Marquis Lewis has a style that is embraced on urban city streets as well as elite art galleries. His style is accessible in all settings because he has earned credibility in all venues. Lewis has earned street cred as a well-known graffiti artist all the while, capturing the attention of professionals in the art world through his remarkable detail and self-perfected technique. It is undeniable that Lewis will continue to find innovative ways to take his artwork to a whole new level.

http://www.digitalretna.com

-Morgan King

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4 Comments on " Marquis Lewis: a.k.a Retna"

  1. Alicia Dunn July 27, 2011 at 12:50 am · Reply

    FANTASTIC!!!!!!! INSPIRED AND INSPIRING BEYOND.

  2. Ronnie Saide January 16, 2013 at 3:15 am · Reply

    graffiti like any other forms of art is really great and enjoyable too.^

    Up to date post on our very own webpage
    http://www.beautyfashiondigest.com/eye-primer/

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