RETNA, ‘These Are The Days’, 2011, Julien's Auctions
RETNA, ‘These Are The Days’, 2011, Julien's Auctions

Framed: 42 x 63 in.

These Are The Days is easily recognizable as the work by the now iconic artist RETNA—from the striking letters that resemble hieroglyphics. This signature visual language leaves the viewer wondering whether his elegant typography contains linguistic meaning or is a form of abstraction. When asked if a meaning does indeed exist, RETNA has said: “There is. 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… They all say something. This particular piece reads “These are the days we have chosen to live out our time here on earth never to return.”

Signature: Signed in pencil lower right "RETNA"


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