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Painted on slabs of wood, sans bodies, settings, or ideological cues, the pieces in Jason Snyder’s show at Art Whino are refreshingly apolitical—a big statement in a D.C. underground-art market that’s currently bingeing on bombastic Obama hagiography. “Skin Deep” depicts with subtlety the side effects of American cosmetic culture, while casting a sympathetic light on the demographic that bears the brunt of our collective expectations. Snyder’s subjects—nymph-like women with sad eyes as large as plates, flawless complexions, and multicolored locks that fall below their breasts—are exceptionally easy on the eyes. But their unblemished exteriors and lackadaisical expressions belie a deep emotional exhaustion with the demands of prettiness. Dissonant characteristics like the Demonic horns and bruised face in “Evilution” reflect the acts of psychological and physical self-violence that are often the cost of conforming to male ideals of perfection. Part criticism and part confession, Snyder’s show confronts unrealistic standards of beauty without coming across as condemnatory or preachy.
“SKIN DEEP” IS ON VIEW FROM NOON to 6 P.M. to Saturday, Jan. 17 AT ART WHINO, 173 WATERFRONT ST., Oxon Hill. FREE. (301) 567-8210.