A Mother's Touch: The Artistic Impact of Retna's Mother

Those of you well versed in the current world of contemporary art will surely be familiar with Marquis Lewis, better known as Retna. His graphic calligraphic pieces feature stunning hieroglyphic/cubiform rows of text—indiscernible to those of us who can’t read his fantastical language—that provide a staggering abstract typographic landscape.


While we could write an entire feature on Retna (and we likely will!), we decided to spotlight one specific painting and the unspoken genius behind it: Retna's mother.



We initially discovered this piece while watching the Architectural Digest home tour of Nicole Scherzinger, who introduced us to the work and eloquently highlighted all the aspects of the painting that we find so devastatingly brilliant. The piece is a black and white, true-to-form Retna, composed of elongated dripping black brushstrokes against a large-scale white canvas. The composition of sharp edged triangles abutting stacked circles captures all we adore about Retna’s work. But what is so boldly sensational about this piece is a massive repaired slice that runs horizontally across the body of the canvas.



The piece had been damaged and the result was a devastating gash tearing through the finished work. But, in a most intimate act, Retna’s mother sewed the canvas together with a both striking and endearing black thread stitch that remains prominently visible. Scherzinger noted “mom’s always put things back together” and it is the manifestation of this relationship and the beauty of a joint creation between single-mother and son that transforms the piece from a magnificent written abstraction to a truly one of a kind work of genius.


Cheers to Scherzinger for collecting and appreciating such an incredible piece of art and to Retna’s mother for her disruptively magical touch that leaves us breathless!



Find the discussion on the Retna piece at minute 2:23