minneapolis

John Snyder

Walker Art Center

John Snyder transformed the studiously blank setting of his first solo museum show into a kind of funky chapel. Sporting a nave, aisles, and a transept, and dotted with nichelike shelves bearing vases full of fresh flowers, the painter’s mystic gallery-cum-basilica also included a soaring, barrel-vaulted apse dolled up like some apocryphal Victorian parlor. This idiosyncratic layout chosen by Snyder for his presentation—with formal origins in ancient Christian and secular architecture, cheerfully injected with a healthy dose of down-home kitsch—aptly symbolizes the various tensions he balances in his work.

Snyder’s gently iconic style is reinforced by architectural, shrinelike framing and a sense of surface and composition that re-calls devotional images of the Flemish Renaissance. But the “saintly” characters that have so obsessively populated Snyder’s works are mythic outsiders, situated

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