Vagos y Reinas: Retna x MacJuxtapoz // Sunday, 20 Sep 2009
Mac and Retna are unlikely partners. Mac is a photorealist: His work in spray paint makes the medium dissolve into a sea of classical touches. Retna is all brush: He is known for his abstract embellishments and calligraphic font. Collaboration is a constant in graffiti, but from the first time that Mac and Retna worked together on a mural it was clear that each painter brought out the best in the other; that the precision of one balanced the looseness of the other. In the five years since, Mac and Retna have collaborated on more than 20 murals around the globe, producing some of the most memorable, monumental work in recent memory. Vagos y Reinas is their widely anticipated first collaborative gallery show.
Mac and Retna’s murals are points of neighborhood pride, and it has made them local heroes. They often get involved in the communities they paint in, speaking in schools or mentoring young artists. Their murals have also become local landmarks—so much so that their piece on La Brea and 3rd was included in a recent Los Angeles Times ad campaign featuring iconic people and places that represent the city.
Vagos y Reinas brings their outdoor work inside. The title of the show, which translates to “vagrants and queens,” references Mac and Retna’s street-infused styles and celestial depictions of women. On exhibit are large-scale pieces that represent some of their best work together. For example, with “Gracias a la Vida,” an 11-by-11-foot canvas, Mac and Retna exalt a photo of a beautiful woman into a divine being. It is a perfect example of their use of graffiti and fine art, combining spray paint with Alphonse Mucha’s whiplash curves, motifs pulled from Byzantine art, and a powerful image that recalls Gustav Klimt.
The exhibit also serves as a retrospective, showcasing individual work from each artist before and after they met, as well as brand new pieces that demonstrate their maturation. “I think that our development as individual artists has made our collaborative work that much stronger and more unique,” Mac explains. Mac will show his extremely technical photorealistic canvases, while Retna plans to create a floor-to-ceiling installation of his calligraphic font.
The exhibition coincides with the release of Alianza (Upper Playground/Gingko Press), a 96-page hardcover book that documents their partnership over the years.
Vagos y Reinas is open to the public from September 26 to October 17, 2009, during normal gallery hours, Tuesday through Saturday, 12 to 6 p.m.
Robert Berman Gallery
At Bergamot Station Arts Center
2525 Michigan Avenue, Suite D5/C2
Santa Monica, CA 90404