RETNA, ‘The Conductor’, 2010, Julien's Auctions

Framed: 27 x 34 1/2 in.

The Conductor is a partial detail from a larger mural by the same name that was originally painted by RETNA and El Mac for the Margulies Collection during Art Basel Miami 2009. The hand belongs to El Conductor, which in Spanish has a myriad of translations ranging from driver to music conductor to director, whose upper torso spans the length of the mural surrounded by RETNA’s hieroglyphic text. The mural mimics a scene out of the filmA Beautiful Mindwhere parts of the text are illuminated in gold as if they were the divine word.

Signature: Signed and dated in pencil lower right "Retna, Mac 2010"

Soze Gallery Collection


The street and studio artist Retna, born Marquis Lewis, picked his moniker from the lyrics of a Wu Tang song that resonated with him in his youth. Retna explains that he was inspired to pursue art after seeing graffiti on the freeway, and his practice now includes street art and painting on canvas. Retna has become known for his long and geometric script, which he developed while looking towards Egyptian and Native American traditional symbols. Though his marks resemble the calligraphy of multiple cultures (and he maintains that he composes his works in English and Spanish), the writing does not belong to a particular language. Retna explains, “I want my text to feel universal. I want people from different cultures to all find some similarity in it—whether they can read it or not.”

American, b. 1978, Los Angeles, California, based in Los Angeles, California

About EL MAC

American, b. 1980, Los Angeles, California, based in Los Angeles, California

Group Shows

Katherine Cone Gallery, 
Los Angeles,
Rouge: A Summer Group Exhibition
Katherine Cone Gallery, 
Los Angeles,
Legitimate Rape: Political Art in 2012