LONDON – British artist Tracey Emin was back in full force for her latest solo show at the White Cube gallery in London on Monday after a period of maintaining a low profile.
The exhibit, titled “A Fortnight of Tears,” marks the powerful return to a gallery space of the renowned English artist, featuring her trademark neon, voyeuristic photography and autobiographical sculpture and drawings.
“‘A Fortnight of Tears’ centers around Emin’s own pain, including her mother’s death, with works shown in the North Galleries evoking states of bereavement, mourning and enduring love,” the gallery said in a statement.
The work, all characteristically intimate and candid in its raw content, again sees the artist discussing her most personal feelings through fluid drawings and harrowing film, with the primary themes being love, life and death.
The show aptly launches by plunging the viewer into Emin’s world from the get-go as punters meander into the first space of the exhibition, named “Insomnia Room,” featuring 50 blown-up, unedited photos of the artist taken during sleepless nights.
Visitors also get to enjoy a range of Emin’s drawings and paintings, again autobiographical in nature but much softer in tone, depicting her body in hues of rose pink and red with hints of mauve reminiscent of Egon Schiele’s unapologetic sensuality.
In a never-before-seen film about her anguish at her mother’s death and her experience of taking her remains home, the artist said: “I carried her ashes across the street – trying not to cry, trying not to think. It somehow felt wrong, like I was stealing something – like I was a thief.”
In addition to the new works, a selection from Emin’s archive is presented organized by themes around the subjects of death, fear, sex and love.
In the ongoing discourse between life and death, the exhibition wraps up with a re-run of her 1996 “How It Feels,” a film of the artist roaming the streets of East London after having an abortion.
Emin rose to fame in the 1990s as one of the artists involved in the Young British Artists movement.
The YBAs were known for their often shocking content and the group brought together several visual artists of the period whose work was characterized by pushing the limits of decency and, as such, garnered much media attention.
Emin first rose to fame with “My Bed,” an installation piece which presented her own unmade stained bed featuring objects around it like her knickers stained with menstrual blood and used condoms. The work was shortlisted for the Turner prize in 1999.
A Fortnight of Tears is on show at the White Cube in Bermondsey from Feb. 6-April 7.