Archive for March, 2009

Mar 26 2009

Joan Snyder in the LA Weekly

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Joan Snyder at SolwayJones
By Christopher Miles


March 25, 2009



Joan Snyder, Sustained, 2007, oil, acrylic, seeds, glitter, pastel, cloth,
papier-mâché on linen, 54 x 72 inches


An artist whose practice was forged among latter-day abstract expressionism, postminimalism’s hybrid and experimental approaches to painting, and the nascent feminist art movement(s) with the accompanying tide of bodily and domestic themes, Joan Snyder couldn’t be accused of being subtle with her imagery.  Her current exhibition at SolwayJones is, shockingly, the first L.A. solo show for the MacArthur Fellow whose on-radar career has spanned from participation in biennials at the Corcoran Gallery and the Whitney Museum in the early ’70s to a 2005 retrospective at New York’s Jewish Museum and inclusion in the recent, historically significant traveling survey exhibitions Wack!  Art and the Feminist Revolution, and High Times Hard Times, New York Painting 1967-1975.  The show is riddled with compositions bearing not-so-vaguely vaginal, woundlike puddles of viscous, transparent crimson paint containing screws and nails – phallic shrapnel that evokes improvised explosive devices and both literalizes and toys with the varied connotations of the slang “getting nailed” and “screwing.”  But such play between the literal and the literary, between images and objects that tap into both a physicality we know in our bodies and a ricochet of language we know in our minds, is pure Snyder; she deals in confrontational materiality and weaves in imagery and language, often scrawled on her raw-feeling canvases, to unsettling yet engaging ends.  The word “RAW” turns up in a canvas here, mirroring – as “REDRUM” mirrored “MURDER” in The Shining – “WAR” on the opposite side of the composition, centered upon fleshy orbs of paint.  It speaks for this whole exhibition of works that try to address our relations to our bodies, ourselves, each other and our earth.  Such works succeed without the Neo-Expressionist posturing that Snyder, coming up in a different era and with little to lose, had no use for, and without the heroics that she knew from the get-go were largely denied her by the culture, her being a her.  Instead, she sticks with raw – nobly, and often profoundly.


© 2009 Village Voice Media  All rights reserved.

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Mar 13 2009

Joan Snyder in the LA Times

Published by news under press


Joan Snyder at SolwayJones

by David Pagel
March 13, 2009

Life of a Tree

Life of a Tree, 2007, oil, acrylic, cloth, berries, papier-mâché, glitter, nails, pastel, on linen

The six paintings and four prints in veteran New York artist Joan Snyder’s L.A. solo debut are vintage Snyder: chewy clots of mismatched materials wrestled into abstract images that are lyrical without being lightweight, visceral without being heavy-handed.


At the SolwayJones Gallery, the fleshy physicality and broken-bones impact begins with the stuff Snyder uses. Into her gooey mixes of dripping acrylics and runny oils she sprinkles seeds, herbs, twigs, glitter and nails. She contains these stews with nest-like enclosures sculpted from papier-mâché and torn strips of fabric. When they dry, they have the presence of wounded flesh, freshly scabbed over yet too sensitive to touch. Think of these parts of her paintings as scars in the making.


The soaring lyricism in Snyder’s otherwise dark art comes through via her capacity to make paint sing. She slaps gestures together with the best of them without wasting a move or missing a beat.


There’s a no-nonsense frugality to her funky art, which is nothing if not serious. There’s also great pleasure, which comes with the wisdom of knowing what you can do and then doing more than that for reasons you can’t quite explain.


It’s odd for an artist of Snyder’s stature to be having her first solo show in L.A. It’s doubly so because her go-it-alone, category-be-damned, DIY-style rhymes so well with so much of the best painting made in L.A.

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