Tracey Emin returns to London this October with her first major gallery exhibition at White Cube, in five years. The Last Great Adventure is You’, is an exhibition of new work featuring bronze sculptures, gouaches, paintings, large-scale embroideries and neon works, the exhibition chronicles the contemplative nature of work by an artist who has consistently examined her life with excoriating candour.
‘The work is about rites of passage, of time and age, and the simple realisation that we are always alone.’ Tracey Emin, July 2014
Reflective in tone, the works in the exhibition are the result of many years’ development, from the bronze sculptures – the most significant body she has made to date – to the works on canvas. There is a complexity in the sculptural form of the bronzes, simultaneously robust yet tender, that points to a consummate understanding of material, composition and subject matter. In Grotto (2014), a tessellated, cave-like chamber gives sanctuary to a solitary figure as artist proxy, while the muscular form of Bird (2014) harmonises sinuous lines with gravity and grace. A series of bronze bas relief plaques portray figures that appear amorphous yet distinct, with subtle interplay between light and shadow.
While the paintings at first appear simple and immediate, many of them are the result of application, obliteration and layering over a period of several years. Emin repeatedly returns to the canvases as a means of reviewing, revising and reconsidering her own position in relation to painting through temporal passages.
The title ‘The Last Great Adventure is You’, which is transcribed in neon within the exhibition, was originally intended by Emin as a reference to the ‘other person’; however, over the two year period since she began creating this body of work, she came to realise that the implication was once again coming back to the self.
Tracey Emin was born in 1963 in London, where she currently lives and works. She was appointed Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy of Art in 2011 and in 2007, represented Great Britain at the 52nd Venice Biennale. She has exhibited extensively internationally, including solo exhibitions ‘Tracey Emin: Ten Years’ at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam in 2002; ‘Tracey Emin: Twenty Years’ at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh in 2008 (which subsequently toured to CCA Malaga and Kunstmuseum Bern); ‘Love is What You Want’, Hayward Gallery, London in 2011; ‘She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea: Tracey Emin at the Turner Contemporary’, Turner Contemporary, Margate in 2012; ‘Tracey Emin: How it feels’ at the Museo de Arte Latino americano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), Argentina in 2012 and ‘Tracey Emin: Angel Without You’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami in 2013.
Tracey Emin: The Last Great Adventure is You White Cube Bermondsey 8 October – 16 November 2014