Retna leaves tell-tale signs behind him. Anyone familiar with murals in Wynwood (or for that matter, Los Angeles) will recognize his signature—symbols that look like hieroglyphics, which are really a language all his own. ARTKABINETT -- the social network for the fine art collector -- has viewed many of his creations about town.
That’s Retna’s work on the side of the Margulies Collection building, or the blue-winged angel on North Miami Avenue and 27th Street.
Retna’s imagery is described as graffiti style, but his paintings stand out distinctively from traditional street works.
While making his first marks and name for himself (Retna is of course a reference to that mechanism of the eye that let’s us see) in Los Angeles, Retna has been coming to Miami and working with the street-art collective Primary Flight for several years now.
So there was no mistaking whose symbols, intricate line work, black-gray-and-white coloring, and mixture of brush and spray paint were covering the floor and walls in the 4141 N.E. Second Ave. building during Art Basel—the inaugural show for the Primary Projects space of Primary Flight.
Although familiar in style, the works—painting, drawing, installation—are all new.
While engulfing most of the interior space with his work, as a mural on a outdoor wall does, it’s a different perspective to see these works somewhat more intimately in an enclosed space.
In fact, Retna (also known as Marquis Lewis) has caught the retina of none other than Jeffrey Deitch, who penned an intro on the artist for the September cover of Juxtapose.
Deitch, recently made director of L.A.’s MOCA, will open what he says is the first major museum survey on graffiti art in 2011, where we are likely to see more Retna, and more fusing of the lines between street and fine art, which he has come to perfect.
Fortunately for us on the East Coast, Retna’s unique imagery is leaving an indelible mark on Miami—one becoming familiar to locals and visitors alike, whether you see it from I-95, while walking the Wynwood streets or, for the next month, while gallery gazing.
Let’s see what Primary Flight throws up in this 4,500-square-foot space next.
“Silver Lining” solo show from Retna, through Jan. 30, at the Atrium Building, 4141 NE 2nd. Ave, Ste. 104, Design District; www.primaryflight.com.