“I look at myself, and I paint myself, but they’re portraits of my mind, of my deepest thoughts.” — Tracey Emin, 2015
Lehmann Maupin and White Cube are pleased to present I Cried Because I Love You, an exhibition by Tracey Emin, CBE. This joint exhibition takes place across both gallery spaces in Hong Kong and marks Emin’s first solo presentation in Greater China.
Emin, who came to prominence as an artist in the 1990s, is internationally celebrated for her challenging, profound, and deeply poetic work across a wide range of media. A modern day ‘Expressionist’, Emin explores ideas of narrative disclosure, drawing on subjects that are intimately bound up with her own biography, recalling events, dreams or emotional states in works that are starkly honest and personal, yet familiar and universal.
For this major project, Emin has envisaged a continuous exhibition of painting, embroidery, and neon across two spaces that reflects the diversity of her practice. A narrative running through the exhibition focuses on a large stone located in an olive grove just outside Emin’s studio in the South of France. In a series of drawings Emin recollects a marriage ceremony that took place there last summer, where she wore a white shroud originally made to adorn her father’s body at his funeral. For Emin, her union with the stone–an immovable and solid form–becomes a metaphor for stability and enduring love.
Emin has described her practice as being about “rites of passage, of time and age, and the simple realisation that we are always alone.” Repeatedly turning to self-portraiture and the classical nude, her work is the result of an intense process of self-discovery. In her new paintings Emin works from photographs of herself, in order to honestly convey and reflect on the physicality of her own body as the years pass. Emerging from layers of application, obliteration and reworking, she uses a minimal palette built-up to outline the body, allowing the practices of drawing and painting to seamlessly merge. As Emin has said, “When I’m drawing, I can play. I can trust things... it’s like freedom, it’s everything. Then when I’m painting, it’s like I’m scared and I don’t know what’s going to happen, as the painting takes over it becomes more exciting.” While in a new series of large-scale embroideries, the hand-crafted process of making the works allow for the energy and tactile trace of the artist’s hand to remain present in the densely stitched, collaged compositions.
I Cried Because I Love You draws on and poignantly illustrates a self-reflective moment in the artist’s life, addressing the pain of loneliness, the complexity of desire, and the bitterness of separation and loss. “It’s my life. I think I’ve cried over more people that I love than people that I hate. I don’t think I’ve really hated hardly anyone. I think my big mistake is loving people too much,” she has said.
A fully illustrated catalogue, featuring an interview between the artist and Carl Freedman, and a selection of Emin’s own writings will be published to coincide with the exhibitions.
About Tracey Emin
Tracey Emin’s art is one of disclosure, using her life events as inspiration for works ranging from painting, drawing, video, and installation, to photography, needlework, and sculpture. Emin reveals her hopes, humiliations, failures, and successes in candid and, at times, excoriating work that is frequently both tragic and humorous.
Emin’s work has an immediacy and often sexually provocative attitude that firmly locates her oeuvre within the tradition of feminist discourse. By re-appropriating conventional handicraft techniques—or ‘women’s work’—for radical intentions, Emin’s work resonates with the feminist tenets of the ‘personal as political’. In Everyone I’ve Ever Slept With 1963-95 (1995, destroyed 2004), Emin used the process of appliqué to inscribe the names of lovers, friends, and family within a small tent, into which the viewer had to crawl inside, becoming both voyeur and confidante. Her interest in the work of Edvard Munch and Egon Schiele particularly inform Emin’s paintings, monoprints, and drawings, which explore complex personal states and ideas of self-representation through manifestly expressionist styles and themes. She achieved international recognition with such key works as My Bed (1998), for which she was shortlisted for the Turner Prize and is currently on display at Tate Britain alongside works by Francis Bacon.
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 a two-person exhibition with Egon Schiele at the Leopold Museum, Vienna (2015); and solo exhibitions including Angel Without You, Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2013); How It Feels, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (2012); She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea, Turner Contemporary, Margate (2012); Love is What You Want, Hayward Gallery, London (2011); and Walking with Tears, Royal Academy of Art, London (2010). In 2008 Emin held her first major retrospective, Tracey Emin 20 Years, at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which subsequently toured to Centro de Arte Contemporaneo, Malaga (2008) and Kunstmuseum Bern (2009). Previous major shows include This is Another Place, Modern Art Oxford, Oxford (2002); Ten Years. Tracey Emin, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2002); I Need Art Like I Need God, South London Gallery, London (1997); and Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen (1998). She has also participated in a number of major international group exhibitions in Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Japan, Australia, The United States, and Chile. In 2007 Emin represented Britain at the 52nd Venice Biennale, was made a Royal Academician and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal College of Art, London, a Doctor of Letters from the University of Kent, and Doctor of Philosophy from London Metropolitan University. In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Emin a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her contributions to the visual arts. She lives and works in London.