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Jason Snyder

By J. Bowers | Posted 2/28/2007

Painter Jason Robert Snyder's playfully goth works look right at home at Fells Point's Saints and Sinners, a space that does triple duty as a tattoo parlor, funky clothing store, and--apparently--art gallery. Dominated by wide, staring eyes and distorted, swollen heads reminiscent of the kitschy Blythe dolls favored by crafty hipster girls, Snyder's cartoonish oil paintings of women, children, and pandas(!?) are presented on planks of untreated plywood, ensconced in ornate frames that appear interestingly at odds with the DIY quality of his canvases.

Snyder's wryly humorous paintings should be an immediate hit with the subculture he tends to portray. "The Bridesmaid" is a chalk-pale ghost of a redhead, the apathy in her cold, staring blue eyes echoed by the fact that she's wearing a pair of red Chuck Taylors with her witchy blue-black formal gown.

In a manner oddly reminiscent of the ancient Greek tendency to personify emotions and ideas as characters and mythic heroes, many of Snyder's paintings present visual representations of abstract emotional states. "Rebellion" is a similarly porcelain-skinned waif. Her lavender hair and pink tutu contrast amusingly--if somewhat predictably--with the tiny cigarette clutched between her delicate fingers. "Thirst," one of the only male figures in this series, is an innocent-looking boy with bulging eyes, cradling an empty "Pimp Cup" studded with rubies and emeralds. Of these, "Empty" represents Snyder's only attempt to toy with his established style. Attired in an American Eagle Outfitters-style miniskirt and preppy polo shirt, "Empty" looks much like Snyder's other ladies of the hour--except for the gaping, unpainted holes that replace her eyeballs. It's an obvious and somewhat trite social statement, but Snyder's whimsical, macabre style makes the concept feel fresh.

Completely unique--and completely ridiculous--"Panda Passion" crucifies a cartoonish panda on a cross-shaped piece of plywood, complete with dripping stigmata and a crown of--what else?--bamboo. Perhaps Snyder is making a commentary on the kitsch factor that often accompanies consumer religious objects, but it's probably safer to say that he's just being goofy. More mass-market indie-rock illustration than fine art, his works feels ready-made for skateboard decks, concert posters, T-shirts, and--hell, why not--even a tattoo or two.

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