From ‘Unmade Beds’ nominated for the Turner Prize to the artist’s latest revelation announcing she has married an ancient rock in France, Tracey Emin is still able to raise an eyebrow, even if only in that sort of Michael Jackson kind of way.
In her latest exhibition which is a joint venture between leading galleries, Lehmann Maupin and White Cube “I Cried Because I Love You” is in Hong Kong and marks Emin’s first solo presentation in Greater China.
For this latest project, Emin has conceived a continuous exhibition of painting, embroidery, and neon across two spaces. A narrative running through the exhibition focuses on a large stone located in an olive grove just outside Emin’s studio in the South of France. In a series of drawings Emin recollects a marriage ceremony that took place there last summer, where she wore a white shroud originally made to adorn her father’s body at his funeral. For Emin, her union with the stone–an immovable and solid form–becomes a metaphor for stability and enduring love.
Emin recently told The Art Newspaper: “It just means that at the moment I am not alone; somewhere on a hill facing the sea, there is a very beautiful ancient stone, and it’s not going anywhere. “It will be there, waiting for me.” In a separate interview, she added: “It’s in my garden, it’s very nice and very impressive and I like it a lot. “The other thing about the stone is that it could be quite monstrous and scary. Instead I saw it as a protection thing as opposed to a fearful thing.” It is “universal” emotion of love, with the artist admitting: “Some people think it sounds sad, but I think that, for many people, they have felt tears of joy when they have really been in love.” ‘My idea of love now is so heightened and spiritual that I really am looking for a soul mate; nothing else will do’ – Tracey Emin
Emin has described her practice as being about “rites of passage, of time and age, and the simple realisation that we are always alone.” Repeatedly turning to self-portraiture and the classical nude, her work is the result of an intense process of self-discovery. In her new paintings Emin works from photographs of herself, in order to honestly convey and reflect on the physicality of her own body as the years pass. Emerging from layers of application, obliteration and reworking, she uses a minimal palette built-up to outline the body, allowing the practices of drawing and painting to seamlessly merge. As Emin has said, “When I’m drawing, I can play. I can trust things… it’s like freedom, it’s everything. Then when I’m painting, it’s like I’m scared and I don’t know what’s going to happen, as the painting takes over it becomes more exciting.” While in a new series of large-scale embroideries, the hand-crafted process of making the works allow for the energy and tactile trace of the artist’s hand to remain present in the densely stitched, collaged compositions.
Emin, who came to prominence as an artist in the 1990s, is internationally known figure who creates, work across a wide range of media, some more successful than others. Touted as a modern day ‘Expressionist’, Emin explores ideas of narrative disclosure, drawing on subjects that are intimately bound up with her own biography, recalling events, dreams or emotional states in works that are personal, yet familiar and universal.
I Cried Because I Love You draws on and illustrates a self-reflective moment in the artist’s life, addressing the pain of loneliness, the complexity of desire, and the bitterness of separation and loss. “It’s my life. I think I’ve cried over more people that I love than people that I hate. I don’t think I’ve really hated hardly anyone. I think my big mistake is loving people too much,” she added.