Its rare to find graffiti gracing an opera stagebut the work of RETNA is the centerpiece of the new production of Aida at SF Opera.
Los Angeles artist RETNA (Marquis Duriel Lewis) has always loved monuments and buildings and, as a young graffiti artist, he longed to leave his mark on them. Now his work will be part of a grand buildinginside rather than outsidewhen Aida opens at the San Francisco Opera and the set design incorporates his art.
A couple weeks before the November 5th opening in San Francisco, RETNA, known for creating an original script combining influences from Egyptian hieroglyphics, Old English, and calligraphy, drove up with his mother from Los Angles to sit in on rehearsals of Aida. Hes thrilled to have his work be part of the opera and feels it fits into the story.
I was a graffiti writer, so script has always been something thats been inherent in my work, and as I got older, it became more calligraphic, but I was always into hieroglyphics, he said. I had a fascination for cultures that had passed that had informed the future and who we are as a people. I was always intrigued by that kind of work.
RETNAs art has been displayed around the world, including in galleries in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Mexico City as well as being used at a Louis Vuitton store in Miami, a NIKE store in Las Vegas, and on the cover of Justin Bieber‘s album, Purpose.
This is the first theatrical production hes been involved inbut he hopes it wont be his last. He loves seeing his designs on stage.
It feels amazing the scale and the speed, he said. The way they can change the lighting and the moodIm in complete awe.
Performances of Aida begin tonight, Saturday, at SF Opera. Book tickets here.