Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin: Those Who Suffer Love at the White Cube is a marking-time exhibition unlikely to seriously enhance or diminish Emin's reputation.
Tracey Emin's new show is the artistic equivalent of snipping the legs off an unfaithful lover's suits. While Britain's best-known woman artist is apparently comfortably ensconced in a relationship, a sense of traumatic break-up resounds through this exhibition, Emin projecting her feelings onto White Cube's pristine walls in terms strident one moment, forlorn the next.
"Christ I just wanted you to ---- me and then I became greedy, I wanted you to love me," screams a mass of neon handwriting. "You said I was beautiful," bleats a small scrap of hand-stitched calico.

If I was the object of these powerful affections I'd be hiding in a dark corner. For while Emin may intend this work as a general, even universal statement on the pain and vulnerability that come with love, you can never seperate what Emin the artist thinks she is saying from what Emin the woman is doing and feeling. You're left in no doubt that this is Emin herself speaking, from the heart.
A sense of isolation runs through this exhibition, finding an outlet in a frenzy of onanism, a theme graphically explored in a large embroidery, a series of monoprints and a computer animation. Yet the raunchiness and apparent edge of such images – not to mention the crowds of celebrities jamming this exhibition's private view – shouldn't blind us to the fact that far from being 'one of Britain's most influential artists', as her PR material proclaims, Emin is a kind of Susan Boyle of art, an idiot savant outsider who represents no one but herself. But that doesn't mean she isn't an interesting, even a good artist.
I like Tracey Emin, although personally, I have never appreciated her need to bare her soul and regale us with all the intimacies of her life, in her art. Each to their own, I guess.

No comments: