She’s been a major figure in contemporary art for over 25 years; Now In an extensive interview with BBC’s Newsnight, Tracey Emin, 57, has spoken candidly about her three-month all clear cancer milestone.
I’m not painting because I’m using my willpower to stay alive – TE
The YBA artist, best known for her Turner Prize-nominated’ Unmade Bed’, revealed that she had bladder cancer last summer. A cancerous tumour was found after undergoing severe pain in her abdomen.
Emin underwent major surgery. She stated in an interview that she was too weak to return to making art. “I was crying because I wanted to paint, and I didn’t have the energy to do it,” she said.
About 10,000 people are diagnosed every year with Bladder Cancer. It’s the tenth most common cancer in the UK, according to the NHS. It affects mainly older adults and is more common in men. The most common symptom is blood in urine – and while most people with blood in their urine won’t have bladder cancer, it’s essential to get checked.
Her recent paintings will be on view again at the Royal Academy in London alongside works she has chosen by Edvard Munch.
“I’m not painting because I’m using my willpower to stay alive. That’s what I’m doing,” she told the programme. She added that she hoped to put her energy back into painting over the coming years, as well as “being happy, smiling more, just enjoying life”. “I never realised how much I wanted to live until I thought I was going to die,” she said.
The government made a “big mistake” in categorising museums and galleries alongside nightclubs when it comes to reopening, she said, describing the decision as “absolutely ridiculous”, she told the BBC.
Tracey Emin was born in London in 1963 and studied at Maidstone College of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. She has exhibited extensively internationally, including solo and group exhibitions in Holland, Germany, Japan, Australia and America. Most recently, Emin’s work has been shown in the following solo exhibitions: The Memory of Your Touch, Xavier Hufkens, Brussels (2017), Surrounded by You, Château La Coste, Aix-En-Provence, France (2017), I cried because I love you, Lehmann Maupin and White Cube, Hong Kong (2016), Angel without You, Miami MoCA, Miami (2013) and a major survey exhibition Love Is What You Want, Hayward Gallery, London (2011). She has also entered her work into a series of acclaimed dialogues with the work of past masters she admires, most notably: Tracey Emin, My Bed / JMW Turner, Turner Contemporary, Margate (2017), In Focus: Tracey Emin and William Blake, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool (2016), Tracey Emin and Francis Bacon, Tate Britain, London (2015), Where I Want to Go, with Egon Schiele, The Leopold Museum, Vienna (2015). Tracey Emin represented the UK at the Venice Biennale in 2007 with the exhibition Borrowed Light and was elected to the Royal Academy in the same year. In 2011, she was appointed Professor of Drawing at The Royal College of Art, London, and in 2012 Queen Elizabeth II appointed her Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her contributions to the visual arts.
Top Photo: P C Robinson © Artlyst 2021
Tracey Emin / Edvard Munch The Loneliness of the Soul Royal Academy London 18 May – 1 August 2021
You may see the interview with Tracey Emin on Newsnight Friday 9 April from 22:45 GMT and afterwards on BBC iPlayer.