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Ivan Rios-Fetcko

Los Angeles, CA (though calling it a 'town' feels a little... off)

instagram @surplus_value
website at

Painting, drawing, photographic installations

Most of my painting and photography work up until recently dealt with the wide-open American landscape and how it has been imagined and re-written. Having grown up in Los Angeles (the ”End of the West”), I was interested in what a ”frontier” could look like when there was no more physical space for exploration and after understanding the damage that the ”frontier mindset” caused to the land and people of the actual (not mythical) ”West.” This interest led me to paint imagined and real landscapes that I developed out of photographs from road trips and hikes, with a strong emphasis on the road as a visual-emotional marker. Those paintings attempted to imagine a space in which people unable to thrive in the current US reality could live unencumbered. My recent work has become less abstract, but I am still trying to create a space between reality and fantasy, hopefully revealing the contradictions between our day-to-day lives and the hopes we project onto the world around us. Broadly speaking, I am trying to redirect the focus on the American West from the very damaging “empty, wide-open, spaces” interpretation to one that sees the current landscape as being the result of hubris and over-extension. When I say “When I Think of America, I Think of Sunsets,” what I’m hoping to point out is the way we in this country have arrived at an endpoint, at a horizon line that is slowly disappearing into the night, no matter how beautiful the day seemed before it.

How does the region influence your art?

Los Angeles is seeped in a car culture that extends beyond the vehicles themselves and produces a relationship with the landscape that enables and invites the driver and, growing up here, I found that wheels (first pedal-powered two, then gas-driven four) opened up ever-expanding and concentric circles for me. The city highways quickly (maybe too easily, in retrospect) led to drives North, into Big Sur and beyond, and East, through the desert to the Grand Canyon and to more desert, drives that convinced me that America is a broad country made up of often contradictory specificities. This view of the land, I've realized, obscures the historical realities and amorphous meanings that should have been apparent from the violent gesture of highways cutting through such scenic vistas. Since returning to Los Angeles—and not leaving as frequently—I have been using the urban landscape as a lens through which to try and make sense of the country at large. The quick-built (and quickly torn down) architecture around me has changed my understanding of the temporality of land and has changed the way I paint and draw landscapes themselves. Rather than the erosion of rock and sand, it is the eroding city that guides my practice.

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