Two of a Kind: Introducing Marquis Duriel Lewis

Terri Provencal, Patron Magazine, October 10, 2019

Marquis Duriel Lewis, recognized more widely as RETNA, will open Dovetail Mortises & La Peluca Grande this evening, October 10, at The Goss-Michael Foundation. The show, presented by The Goss-Michael Foundation in partnership with Artrinity, is curated by Maxine Trowbridge co-founder and director of Artrinity. “I’ve followed RETNA’s work for years, so when I was introduced to Marquis this summer, I jumped at the chance to work with him and to bring his latest body of work to Dallas at The Goss-Michael Foundation,” remarks Trowbridge.


This exhibition, intentionally titled under his full name, Marquis Duriel Lewis, rather than RETNA, the name associated with his text-based work, showcases recent paintings of abstract expressionism and portraiture on canvas and paper. Lewis departs from graffiti to paint with raw intensity, transcending his vocabulary of calligraphy and continuing his evolution as a fine artist. Lewis oscillates between the torment of success and self-awareness, as he alienates himself from his prior text-based work to the challenge of working in a looser style. Inspired by his recent art teachings with young children, Lewis has internalized a naïve approach to his art, allowing for creative freedom. 


As Lewis describes, “These paintings come with a fascination of wanting to be like a child or wanting to paint like one. I’ve been trying to paint like them ever since I’ve been working with them, and I’ve found it very difficult. They have this absolute freedom, and they don’t have these restrictions that we put on ourselves as adults with all our emotional baggage. I’ve become very linear with the text-based work, it has to look a certain way. And every time I would paint with these kids, they would just have this looseness—they have this amazing ability to just be loose, to be free. It took me a very long time to get there.” 


“RETNA is extremely relevant in today’s art scene and is most widely known as an American street artist. This new body of work is a truly beautiful show of expressionism and portraiture, shown for the first time at The Goss-Michael Foundation under his full name, Marquis Duriel Lewis,” said Kenny Goss, co-founder, The Goss-Michael Foundation. The exhibition debuts his new series of large canvas works including smaller paintings as works on paper, along with his widely recognized large text-based works for longtime RETNA admirers. The exhibition remains on view through November 9, 2019.  

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