Clément Boudin returns to the field of still life painting to refigure it in relation to his experience of living and art-making in a rural and communal project in Lacelle, Corrèze. The decision to relocate his art practice to a marginal and labour-intensive environment has opened up an interest in reexamining the received traditions that inform our reading of painting.
The Dark Tools series depicts traditional, basic tools, nearly hovering, apparition-like, in an undefined and shadowy space. Without the dramatic effects of Chiaroscuro, or other historic tricks of painting, the depicted objects live in a gloom of forgotten users and tasks. The style and technical delivery of the small paintings is historical and naturalistic, but escapes in the last instance from being anachronistic, through a clever use of misframing that cuts across the supposed subject of the painting.
Drawing on the history of photography rather than painting, Clément Boudin puts the framing of the subject centrestage. The pleasure and self evidence of the image are spoiled by the displacement of the image. The bourgeois or colonial history of still life painting as it develops from the Dutch 17th-century still life, is disrupted in these paintings which, rather than falling prey to the naif desire to make a ”window onto the world”, finds itself centred on something other; something that will not rest or stay still; that can not be captured.
Boudin’s tools paintings are ‘ghostly signals’, evoking alienation and the phantasmatic way human labor reappears in commodities and surplus value or how spiritual beings can be thought of as collective representations. The gloom around the object; its disquiet and its unmourned histories is pressed into the frame and material of these little black paintings.
Accompanying the Dark Tools series is a series of paintings of hung gloves, which extends the references to past work, construction, and labours. This time, fully framed but still muddy and dark. Boudin does not often let the series dictate fully the program or interpretive framework of his works. There is humour in his selection of works; Beckettian and deathly, but funny nevertheless.