Dash Snow

Portraits

2nd August - 19th September 2015

Honolulu, Honolulu Gallery, HonoluluGallery, HonoluluZurich, Honolulu Zurich, Zurich, Dash Snow

Dash Snow was a romantic figure: handsome, charismatic and fiercely talented. Descended from French aristocracy and emerging in a hardboiled bohemian New York, Snow rose to notoriety in the early 2000s before his untimely death at the age of 27. Although most well known for his starkly intimate Polaroids of himself, his friends and his lovers, Snow’s prolific output includes extraordinary work in collage, sculpture and film. For its second show, Honolulu is proud to present Dash Snow: Portraits: his first solo exhibition in Switzerland, and a remarkable snapshot of the artist at his most assured.

Snow is often likened to a witch doctor. He worked with the materials around him, performing a sort of alchemy of talisman and totem: glitter, skulls, semen, syringes, and newspaper cuttings all find their way into his assemblages. This Was Your Life (2005), a major sculptural work, sees Snow’s command of aura and object brought to powerful expression. The installation is inspired by Daniel Rakowitz, an infamous East Village eccentric who styled himself as the ‘marijuana messiah;’ in 1989, Rakowitz murdered and partially ate his girlfriend. Snow piles the trappings of the small-time drug dealer and devil worshipper into a tawdry shrine: leather sofa, pot plant, snakeskin boots, satanic medallion and newspaper clipping form an empty portrait of clichéd relics, rendering Rakowitz a sadly banal figure.

Two Untitled works from 2006 and the diptych Show No Mercy, 2006 showcase Snow’s sharp social commentary through collage: though very much a product of New York, he tackled contemporary life in America with a piercing and often paranoid gaze that was far from insular, keen for the public to engage. Tyson features a characteristically unflinching pornographic gesture, playing with the nexus of sex and violence through an oblique reference to police brutality; Bush none-too-subtly surrounds George W. in coonskin cap with a cascade of ‘FUCK,’ and overlays a map of the USA with the gun and badge of a police officer. Both works inherit from Snow’s time as a graffiti artist and make use of his trademark yellowed paper and card, carrying a frontline sense of urban dereliction in their very materiality.

The New York Times (2006/2007) is something of a self-portrait. Snow has printed out an online New York Times review of his own 2006 solo collage show, in which Holland Cotter comments aptly that ‘With their blend of eschatological rant, pop reference and unemphatic misogyny, the collages could serve as illustrations for Ginsberg’s “Howl.”’ Over this, Snow wryly lays a fragment of vintage porno, the fellatio depicted perhaps enacting Snow’s often uneasy relationship with critics and commentators; the jaundiced image stands in stark contrast to the crisp white A4 of the printout, further offsetting this troubled disjunction.

More than merely postcards from a life lived on the edge, Snow’s keen recombinant eye layers these works with poignancy, fear, and a perhaps surprising self-awareness. Radiating a shamanistic power, these portraits display the wit and versatility of one of the most important artists of our century.

Dash Snow
The New York Times, 2006/2007
Collage on paper
10 ½” x 8 ¼” (27 x 21 cm)

Dash Snow
This was your life, 2005
Leather couch, rosary, mask with human hair, mirror, fur coat, horny hillbilly, palm tree, snakeskin boots, silent witness
80” x 77” x 36 ¼” (205.7 x 195.6 x 92 cm)

Dash Snow
Untitled, 2006
Collage on book cover
8” x 11” (20.3 x 27.9 cm)

Dash Snow
Show No Mercy, 2006
Collage on board in two parts
14” x 12 ½” (35.5 x 31.7 cm)

Dash Snow
Untitled, 2006
Collage on book cover
8” x 11” (20.3 x 27.9 cm)