Cover image of the review
Amber Boardman, Pile of Pawn Shop Engagement Rings, 2023, oil on canvas, Chalk Horse. Image courtesy of the gallery.

Amber Boardman: Dude

1 Jul 2023
Chalk Horse 15 Jun - 8 Jul 2023

I make a point of avoiding commercial galleries. They provoke the same sense of guilt as a designer shoe shop: I know that the staff know that I am not going to buy anything. My presence in these spaces is ghostly at best—there but not there, a secondary consumer left to haunt Depop and Facebook marketplace. So I am not surprised when the gallery assistant at Chalk Horse looks me up and down, nods briefly, and retreats into the back room to continue their phone conversation. Naturally, I eavesdrop. The conversation orbits around a dude, who may or may not be entangled in a love-plot: the tone is tense, he has done something that he shouldn’t have. But without context, the dude remains a sonic composite. Similarly, Amber Boardman’s Dude emerges—through a constellation of hiking gear, jewellery, sporting paraphernalia, and coffee cups—as the composite subject of the artist’s still lifes. Yet a subtle slippage in the catalogue essay authored by Boardman reveals this fictional dude to be the (fictional?) paintings’ progenitor: “This dude is creating these still lifes as a way of coping with the events of everyday life. He goes to work, comes home, tries out new hobbies, makes love, and all the while turns these experiences into his art.” Boardman’s dude is first a subject of the artist, then a subject as the artist.

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