Tracey Emin – ‘I am my Art’

By Sofia Evangelou - Thursday, September 14, 2017
Tracey Emin – ‘I am my Art’

During the Brussels Gallery Weekend I had the pleasure to meet Tracey Emin, one of the most important artists in today’s contemporary art scene. Emin is innovative, bold and exuberant. She speaks with passion about her life and her art – the two being complementary and inseparable. Her most recent exhibition at the Xavier Hufkens Gallery is also something that we discussed in depth. A major exhibition, which is spanning in two galleries with approximately ninety works, in a wide range of media including paintings, bronze sculptures, works on paper, neon texts and a video.

Tracey Emin – ‘I am my Art’

During the Brussels Gallery Weekend I had the pleasure to meet Tracey Emin, one of the most important artists in today’s contemporary art scene. Emin is innovative, bold and exuberant. She speaks with passion about her life and her art – the two being complementary and inseparable. Her most recent exhibition at the Xavier Hufkens Gallery is also something that we discussed in depth. A major exhibition, which is spanning in two galleries with approximately ninety works, in a wide range of media including paintings, bronze sculptures, works on paper, neon texts and a video. 

The loss of her beloved mother, influenced deeply the life of the artist the past year, and is ever-present in her work. Besides the title of the exhibition -The Memory of your Touch- is also a short of a gloss and alludes to a line in D.H. Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928). Tracey is sharing with us her grief, her sadness, and the absence of that person in her daily life. As always, her work remains autobiographical and confessional.

In addition, the majority of the works emanate from pathos and eroticism, underlined by the use of pink. Actually, she kept repeating: “I really like pink, it is such a nice color”.  In her work from drawings to sculptures, you can see the influence of Edward Munch, Egon Schiele and Rodin.

When Tracey Emin enters the room, it becomes full, magically. Her presence, authoritative artistic aura, and natural gravitas automatically changes the climate in the room. Very few people have this gift. To Emin it comes naturally, and it is disarming.

 

Tracey Emin, Mother, 2017, acrylic on board. Photo credit: HV-Studio, Courtesy the Artist and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels

 

Tracey Emin, The Crucifixion, 2017, acrylic on canvas. Photo credit: HV-Studio, Courtesy the Artist and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels

Her works are a mix of memories and desires, which she bravely states and shares through her work. Because her art is her, it is not just an aspect of her personality, but entirely her. What you see on her art is what you see when you look at her. 

A beautiful poem by the artist, 2017, neon. Photo credit: Sofia Evangelou

Fully open, the artist is completely aware of her needs and wills. Indeed, one phrase that she repeatedly kept saying and particularly struck me was: “If you do not ask for what you want in this life, you are not going to take it, at work, at your private life, everywhere”. And she continues: “If I feel that I cannot exhibit somewhere, for my own reasons, I prefer not to do so rather than compromise with a situation that does not fulfil me completely. If I do not feel happy within a relationship, I prefer to be alone”. 

Tracey Emin is an uncompromising person and an uncompromising artist, who masterfully touches and liberates your soul through her work.

 

Tracey Emin, All I want is you, 2016, bronze. Photo credit: Stéphane Aboudaram, Courtesy the Artist and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels 

The erotic photograph below, which has the same title as the exhibition, is showing the artist lying face-down on a hotel bed, alone. Tracey characteristically commended on that photo: “I would not have the courage to show that photo 10 or even 5 years ago. Now I do”. And she continues: “I really like this photo because it is so vague. Everyone can think and see whatever they want.”

 

Photo credit: Sofia Evangelou

The exhibition includes also a video with the title ‘You Made Me Feel Like This’. The artist is sitting alone in the eighteenth-century interior of a surviving Huguenot house in the shadow of Hawksmoor’s Christ Church in London, where she is writing an emotional letter to a lost love.  Such a powerful and yet, at the same time, such a peaceful video; noises and images that make your mind travel and activate your memory.

At the end of our walk through the exhibition, and occasioned by some questions regarding her previous works and how she feels about them, her answer was once again clear and simple: “For me every last show is the best, and I strongly believe that this show is the best I have done so far in my career”.

Photo credit: Xavier Hufkens, Brussels

The exhibition will last till the 21st of October at Xavier Hufkens gallery in Brussels.

 

 It turned me on dancing with you, Tracey Emin, 2016. Photo credit: HV-Studio, Courtesy the Artist and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels

Sofia is living and working in Brussels. She holds a BA in History, History of Art and Archaeology, and an MA in Art Management at Maastricht University, where she specialized in the art market and wrote a thesis on the impact of art fairs. She has completed several internships at some of the most important European Museums, such as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Sofia is also amassing work experience in the art market sector, working for several art galleries in Europe and in the context of leading art fairs. In parallel, she is working as a freelance art manager and advisor, fueled by her passion for art and thirst for new projects. Sofia’s life is going hand in hand with art and travels.

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Luc Tuymans, Flemish Village 1995.  Collection MuHKA, Antwerp

Luc Tuymans, Flemish Village 1995. Collection MuHKA, Antwerp

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