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Art review: 'David Snyder: Face Forward' at Michael Benevento Gallery

June 9, 2011 |  6:30 pm

Snyder facade For his quirky solo gallery debut, David Snyder exploits the tendency of vernacular building facades to resemble faces. These particular works emerge as portraits of despair.

Snyder rebuilt the glass storefront of Michael Benevento Gallery with stucco and plywood, a forlorn planter box forming a blank mouth and a high pair of square windows suggesting glassy eyes. In Snyder's woebegone urban Eden, an apple on the ledge of each eye forms a Cézannesque pupil -- knowledge just out of reach.

Inside the gallery, two more facades continue the theme. One is a clapboard bungalow, the other a more cave-like dwelling. Walk through the doorway of each, and cheap construction materials (balsa wood, tissue paper, sliced-up furniture, staples and glue) are revealed on the other side -- transient, makeshift methods for getting by. Muffled soundtracks play on boomboxes accompanying each facade, their earnest voices recalling self-help and motivational pep talks.

In the last room, a video projection shows a rickety domestic facade being wheeled down an urban street in the dead of night. But there is no escape. Suddenly, flames erupt in the windows, engulfing the flimsy structure.

Snyder deftly walks a dual line in this measured installation. Domestic tranquillity, both personal and social, is coming apart at the seams. Tentatively held together with yards of Scotch tape and reams of hope, this makeshift portrait of millennial life looks disturbingly familiar.

Michael Benevento Gallery, 7578 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 874-6400, through June 25. Closed Sun. and Mon. www.beneventolosangeles.com

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-- Christopher Knight

@twitter.com/KnightLAT

Photo: David Snyder, "Put up a good front, but there's always that little voice...," 2011, mixed media; Credit: Michael Benevento Gallery

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