Currently featuring in the MOCA street art retrospective in LA and the solo touring street art exhibition, The Halleluja World Tour, the work of Retna yields an unmistakable aesthetic, drawing on an array of influences including Asian calligraphy, Incan and Egyptian hieroglyphics, Hebrew and Arabic script, traditional UK gang style graffiti writings and the tagging and graffiti seen in Los Angeles since the 1970’s. The London leg of the show, opening on June 8 at The Old Dairy, will be Retna’s first solo show in the United Kingdom, as he presents thirty new pieces.
Dazed Digital: What different trends do you notice in street art across the world?
Retna: I’ve noticed that the work is getting even bolder, and bigger.
Dazed Digital: What do you think of London street art?
Retna: I think London street art is great, and the artists there have played a crucial role in the advancement of the movement as a whole. Many great artists from Graffiti artist to street artists have originated from London.
Dazed Digital: Do you feel street art looses any of its political impact or rebellious power when it is put into the context of a gallery?
Retna: I think that it can, yes, but it all depends on how the artist attacks that dilemma. Some artists might not care to address those issues, I think at that point you focus on the work, the rebellious nature is what got you there.
Dazed Digital: How important have people like Jeffrey Deitch, Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld and Andy Valmorbida been in encouraging street art exhibitions in the US?
Retna: I think it’s crucial to have their support and encouragement to further push the boundaries of the exhibits they hold. I feel grateful to them for helping guide me into an art career that can be long lasting and fruitful. I must say that Marsea Goldberg and the people at Primary Flight have also helped me realize my artistic ambitions as well, as well as many other artists working in the genre.
Dazed Digital:Your work incorporates some quite ancient influences, Asian calligraphy, Incan and Egyptian hieroglyphics, Hebrew and Arabic script, the original “street art”. How do you think our current contemporary street art will be remembered in the future?
Retna: Hopefully in just as lasting a way as the ones you just mentioned.
The Halleluja World Tour opens at The Old Dairy, 7 Wakefield St, London, WC1N 1PB, on June 8