RETNA Rocks!

Apr 18, 2012 | Life With Art

I have been a fan of RETNA for years, and now, as the landscape of Los Angeles is everywhere kissed by a mural of poetry and power, it seemed time to talk about the poetry of artistry.  RETNA created a typography and visual code that corresponds with letters in the alphabet, then uses his new language to write prose in what he has told me is mainly Spanish.  The overall effect of a RETNA mural is an alternate universe where it becomes clear that communication takes many forms, and all are effective! Check it out! 

Here is an exhibition space that I would love to say was tagged by RETNA, but this is beyond tagging… it is calligraphic artistry.  The language is akin to hieroglyphics that you will not just walk into, you will walk upon and they may bleed over your head.  Its an alternate universe where the power of language displays itself as it engulfs you.

Close up on a RETNA, this one I believe from the now-legendary Street Art exhibition at MOCA in Los Angeles, shows the dripping, melting, fantasy-like quality and ephemeral daze of his work.

In a more textured and colored RETNA below the world of words emerges from within the red of passion and emotion, first fuzzy, then clear, just like we understand and speak in a haze of emotions.

I personally love the RETNA collaborations (with El Mac, specifically) that use gorgeous women, painted idols and color in turns to merge the fantasy, reality and overall emotionality of the statement.

And yes, there is a fantastic insider-outsider quality to using ones made-up alphabet to express thoughts and solidify expression.  Very few people (and even, in my experience, RETNA himself at times) can decipher and read what is being said, painted and sprayed… but that doesn’t mean you can’t feel it!

If you have your favorite RETNA murals, please send me pix!  I am always driving and trying to shoot photos out my window, and I must say, this is not the best way to collect photo documentation!  But…I want it!

Enjoy your own universe of thoughts, words and artful life! xoxo Dana


  1. Lindsay

    I am in love with these letters! I would like to get a tattoo of a couple words but i dont know where to find an official RETNA alphabet to see how to spell the words i want tattooed, is there any way that you would know of to find out how to spell the words “love” or “bush” in RETNA?

    • danaclaudat

      haha, i wish. he read me one of his paintings once. they are (or were) in spanish atop the fact that they are in his own alphabet 🙂 so, maybe see if you can find a translation of one, translate it to spanish and match up the letters 😉


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