American artist and photographer Dash Snow died from a drugs overdose on Monday night at the Lafayette Hotel in Manhattan.
Snow, a scion of the extremely wealthy De Menil family, was one of the most colourful and promising artists from the Lower East Side scene in New York, whose life and feelings were laid bare – very bare – in his work. Visceral, personal, often offensive and invariably reflecting the seamier underbelly of his New York life, Snow's Polaroids and collages had a real force and energy to them.
Leaving his privileged background behind at the age of 15 and arriving in New York, Snow initially experimented with street art, becoming part of the notorious, extreme Irak graffiti crew. Living on the sleazier fringes of society, Snow’s world became an increasing blur of drug abuse, random sex, parties and petty crime. As a means of trying to piece together his exploits he began taking Polaroids of his misadventures (think an X-rated version of the film Memento), eventually obsessively recording his life and encounters as they and his art became one.
Also often working with collage, one of Snow’s most notorious pieces was ‘Fuck The Police’, a collage of 45 newspaper cuttings on corruption and crime within the NYPD, covered in places with his own semen. In a typically prescient move, Charles Saatchi acquired this piece, which is sure to be regarding as Snow’s masterpiece.
The nudity, sex, drug use and bodily fluids in Snow’s work were often confrontational and grim, but you were always left with the sense that this weren’t attention-seeking devices but an honest reflection of Snow and his gang’s maverick, wayward existence.
Given his hardcore lifestyle, there was perhaps a grim inevitability to Snow’s demise, but his was a raw, real, talent which has passed all too soon.
A statement from his gallery, Peres Projects, perhaps sums it up best: "Dash was the gentlest of souls and one of the most sensitive artists of his time. He found beauty where most would not know to look.”