Highway Hypnosis, Ryan Preciado’s first solo exhibition is an organic homage to the people and conversations he finds himself in. Each piece can be traced back to a place of work, an everyday temple, a moment of genuine connection with the transcendent beauty and meaning which is available to all of us, equally.
Here are the hardware stores, auto body shops, construction sites, house parties, skate parks, back alleys, ranches, kitchens, and restaurants which are the real birthplaces, the original reference points of our individual and collective reverence for that which we eventually agree to call “art”.
Through his ever-evolving and gently irreverent practice, Preciado invites us into the unrestricted world of conceptual design where sculpture and furniture live side-by-side, just as they do in our homes, offices, workshops, and altars. In so-doing, Preciado draws attention to the strangely convincing tendency to separate art from object, sculpture from tool, chair from portal to the divine.
As a Central California native of mixed Chumash and Mexican heritage, Preciado does not shy away from apparent contradiction or paradox. Rather, he leans into it. Sacred geometry, the Archizoom Associati, indigenous basket weaving, and a longstanding fascination with the simultaneous muscularity and sentimentality of candy-colored lowriders are among the many influences which converge to produce novel forms in his work. Faucet hardware and auto parts take on new significance as Preciado re-presents them in new scales, configurations, and enduring materials such as alder wood and bronze.
Inspired by a dialogue with José Angulo of José’s Auto Body in East LA about movement, flow, physical labor, love, and freedom, the exhibition’s title describes a phenomenon familiar to many Angelenos: highway hypnosis is a meditative state that happens—often unexpectedly—while driving long distances or regular routes. We enter it by growing so accustomed to our mechanically-mediated routines that we seem to go beyond them, to be both bound and, somehow, unlimited. In response to this ongoing contemplation, Preciado hones in on the habitually overlooked artifacts of work and industry—exploring, questioning, and celebrating their sublime essence.
The resultant works are delightfully open-ended, infused with a characteristic generosity of spirit that welcomes our engagement and makes it possible for us to form our own connections. In the back gallery, several stools are arranged to form a conversation nook. Visitors are encouraged to take a seat, share space with each other, and experience the heart of Preciado’s approach to both art and design, what New York Times writer Durga Chew-Bose describes as “kind, alive, and curious, like a question mark.” — text by Ara Castello
Ryan Preciado (b. 1989, Los Angeles) is an artist/designer based in Los Angeles. He was raised in Nipomo, CA on his ancestral Chumash homelands. Recent exhibitions include Body Forth / A Cliff to Climb, a two-person exhibition with Matt Conners at Canada, New York (2022) and Downhearted Duckling, a group exhibition featuring Diana Yesenia Alvarado, Mario Ayala, rafa esparza, Magdalena Suarez Frimkess, and Alfonso Gonzalez Jr. organized by Preciado at South Willard Gallery, Los Angeles (2021). Highway Hypnosis is his first solo exhibition.