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Tracey Emin – The Last Great Adventure is You

November 5, 2014

ArtsDrawingMixed MediaPainting | by Maxine Kirsty Sapsford


So Pretty, 2014, Acrylic on canvas, 12 x 9 15/16 in. (30.5 x 25.2 cm), © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2014, Photo: Ben Westoby, Courtesy White Cube
So Pretty, 2014, Acrylic on canvas, 12 x 9 15/16 in. (30.5 x 25.2 cm), © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2014, Photo: Ben Westoby, Courtesy White Cube

 

We are told by Tracey Emin that ‘The Last Great Adventure is You’ is “…about rites of passage, of time and age, and the simple realisation that we are always alone”. It seems only fitting therefore that the White Cube displays Tracey Emin’s latest exhibition. Its South Galleries provide a home for Emin, it’s calm and spacious – there’s room to think, to take it all in. No single piece demands sole attention; sculptures sit patiently in the centre of the room whilst neon signs blend quietly into the walls.

 

It’s her first show at the White Cube in five years and it seems that those years were spent defining, developing and understanding. We learn that the phrase ‘The Last Great Adventure is You’ was originally deemed to reference the other person but upon reflection, Emin realised that it focused more upon the self.

 

Good Body, 2014, Acrylic on canvas, 10 x 10 in. (25.4 x 25.4 cm), © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2014, Photo: Ben Westoby, Courtesy White Cube
Good Body, 2014, Acrylic on canvas, 10 x 10 in. (25.4 x 25.4 cm), © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2014, Photo: Ben Westoby, Courtesy White Cube

 

It’s no surprise that her paintings such as ‘I Feel You Coming’ and ‘Good Body’ focus on the female body, with simple detailing in an exposed manner. There are no distinguishable facial features but the nature of the figure’s stance suggests that we should look upon the paintings with the understanding that this is a female expressing herself; that this is something to be seen as beautiful. It would be right in saying that her painted pieces appear effortless, yet terribly wrong to say that they were so. Emin’s paintings are several years’ worth of revising, revamping, layering, correcting – quite simply redefining. It’s clearly understandable that no matter what scale the painting is, each line references her thoughts.

 

As we venture through the exhibition, her sculptures such as ‘I Love You’ and ‘Lion Love’ are coated in pure white and stand alone. They are peaceful, paying homage to nature. Perhaps subconscious metaphors, they nevertheless consistently demonstrate a delicate hand, similar to her paintings. These too add to the palette throughout Emin’s exhibition, which is far from harsh; it’s harmonious, sensual and relaxing. It does not push your eyes in each and every direction, rather it lets them ponder and wonder.

 

Good Red Love, 2014, Acrylic on canvas, 8 1/4 x 11 5/8 in. (21 x 29.5 cm), © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2014, Photo: Ben Westoby, Courtesy White Cube
Good Red Love, 2014, Acrylic on canvas, 8 1/4 x 11 5/8 in. (21 x 29.5 cm), © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2014, Photo: Ben Westoby, Courtesy White Cube

As usual her neon signs provide us with warming familiarity too, greeting us upon arrival. However, her bronzed sculptures are an unusual sight. Placed on wooden surfaces, each varies in scale, again demonstrating the skilful hand of Emin and her vision so interestingly formed. They appear to mimic the paintings, refusing to put a face to the sculpture and again present with certain fragility despite the material used. Overall, ‘The Last Great Adventure is You’ is a collection of Emin’s most impactful work.

 

Held at the ‘White Cube’ gallery in Bermondsey, ‘The Last Great Adventure is You’ is available to view until 16th November. For more information visit whitecube.com.

 

Hollyann Prince

 

Up straight, 2014, Gouache on paper, 13 15/16 x 9 15/16 in. (35.4 x 25.3 cm), © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2014, Photo: Ben Westoby, Courtesy White Cube
Up straight, 2014, Gouache on paper, 13 15/16 x 9 15/16 in. (35.4 x 25.3 cm), © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2014, Photo: Ben Westoby, Courtesy White Cube