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Retna Solo show

       

By Shahrzad |  Published on Monday, October 29, 2012.

Check out LA based street artist Retna's new solo show in Los Angeles. He has a bunch of cool new hieroglyph paintings that need to be seen.

© Shahrzad Ghadjar


Retna – New Paintings and Works on Paper

The Michael Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles exhibited some of Retna’s new paintings this month.

LA based Retna began his work as a graffiti artist in the early 1990s. He worked in crews like WCA, MSK and AWR while also starting his own art collectives around LA. Retna’s work has been a marriage between photography and vibrant, intricate designs. Most recently, the designs that keep coming up within his murals are a form of hieroglyph that merges Farsi, Arabic, Hebrew and Native American languages.

© Shahrzad Ghadjar


© Amy Duran


© Amy Duran


© Amy Duran


His murals have been commissioned by businesses around Los Angeles, New York, Japan, San Francisco, London, Mexico, Australia, and a slew of other places. Most recently, one of his murals was commissioned along side Shepard Fairey and Kenny Scharf in West Hollywood. His work has been exhibited at MoCA’s Art in the Streets exhibition in 2011 as well as a solo travelling show called The Hallelujah World Tour in 2011 which opened in New York and went on to travel to London and was recently in LA based LALA Arts Public Works show.

The exhibit at Michael Kohn can be seen as a deconstructed view of Retna’s photographic murals and plays with minimalism. Rather than combine photography and painting, Retna has created work based on one layer of his process: the hieroglyphs. These new paintings are incredibly minimalistic in terms of color and content but his use of texture is very playful. A couple of his pieces combine paint and glitter, which creates a phenomenal shine that mesmerizes the audience.

© Amy Duran


© Amy Duran


When asked about whether his work has a verbal element to it Retna claims that,

“There’s a verbal element. It could be a poem, it could be just stuff that I’m thinking about, for me it’s just a very meditative process; I’m just having a conversation with myself. Sometimes I allow the music to influence what I’m writing. A lot of them are names my mom would call me when I was growing up, and some are things I’m talking about, friends who have passed away - they’re interactions with what’s going on with people that I just meet, or a conversation I just had. I hear a word or a phrase or a dialogue, and then that becomes my response. They all say something.”

© Amy Duran


© Amy Duran


© Amy Duran


Though the work was spectacular, there was part of me that felt that the location wasn’t meant for the pieces. Looking at the high heeled, glitzy, Hollywood art curators smiling and offering me wine wasn’t what I was expecting at a street artist’s show. Standing next to two old ladies analyzing the meaning of his work, while a frat boy got up close and personal with one of the glittery pieces and seeing a man by himself at the show with plastic surgery written all over his face was equally unexpected. But who am I to judge? I was the one walking around the gallery with a ripped tank top and pants that were falling off because the only belt I own broke.

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