21 March – 21 May 2016
White Cube Hong Kong
“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 presented I Cried Because I Love You, an exhibition by Tracey Emin, CBE. This joint exhibition took place across both gallery spaces in Hong Kong and marked 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series of drawings Emin recollects a marriage ceremony that took place there last summer, where she wore a white shroud originally made to adorn her father’s body at his funeral.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-reflexive 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.