25 November 2020 – 13 February 2021
White Cube Mason's Yard
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The paintings, neon, sculpture and film in this exhibition take their cue from the elemental, sometimes primal, artistic expression that defines the art of Tracey Emin. Timed to coincide with the major exhibition ‘Tracey Emin / Edvard Munch: The Loneliness of the Soul’ at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, the presentation culminates with a screening of her 1998 film Homage to Edvard Munch and all My Dead Children.
The title of the exhibition is drawn from a painting that references the ‘Hunter’s Moon’, a variation of a full moon that appears in October or November in the northern hemisphere. Also called a ‘Blood Moon’, this lunar event became known within traditional folklore as the best time for nocturnal stalkers to track and catch their prey. For Emin, who often paints throughout the night, a different kind of quarry is captured in her painting, which shows a couple locked in a carnal embrace atop a blood red mound of gestural marks. In another work, This Was The Beginning (2020), the figure is the conduit for expressions of turmoil and passion, and ultimately, salvation. The treatment of the motifs in the work convey the physicality and expressionism that is so familiar in Emin’s paintings. A reclining body is seen both emerging and collapsing in a tumult of vigorous brushwork and pentimenti strokes; the life force that is the figure, with its crimson contours, bursting out from a background of ghostly, whitewashed passages.
A palette of dark red and blue predominates in Absolute Fucking Desperation (2020), where forms are repeatedly overlaid with robust brushwork, creating an active depth of field within the composition. The partially visible outline of a recumbent figure collapses into an abstracted topography, with strong, staccato strokes punctuating the form, emanating the energy of its making, with stains and drips running down the canvas.
The sculpture in the centre of the ground floor space, There was so much more of me (2019), is the truncated form of a woman which appears both eroticised and defenceless. Kneeling as if in supplication, with legs splayed apart, the figure is bold yet vulnerable.
In the lower ground floor gallery, the film Homage to Edvard Munch and all My Dead Children shows Emin on a pier crouched in a foetal position. The camera pans across to reveal the backdrop of a bay, with its waters shimmering in the sunlight. This is the view from Edvard Munch’s house at Åsgårdstrand in Norway, which featured in a number of his paintings. A moment elapses before an agonised and prolonged scream fills the air, a reverberation, perhaps, of Munch’s most celebrated work The Scream.
Emitting a warm yellow glow, the neon I Made My Way To You (2020), is situated in the adjacent space. As with so many of Emin’s neon works, there is an ambiguity to the statement, which can be read as a personal declaration from one lover to another, or resonate across time, from one artist to another. Alongside this sits the maquette for The Mother: a public art commission permanently sited on the city of Oslo’s Museum Island which will be inaugurated in 2021. The final manifestation of this intimate and tender portrayal of a mother will be a monumental bronze sculpture visible across the fjord. As Emin has said of the work: ‘The Mother sits like a Sphinx, waiting for the tide, looking out to sea – protecting the home of Munch’.
Tracey Emin was born in 1963 in London. She currently lives and works between London, the South of France, and Margate, UK.
Emin has exhibited extensively including solo exhibitions at Musée d’Orsay, Paris (2019); Château La Coste, Aix-en-Provence, France (2017); Leopold Museum, Vienna (2015); Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2013); Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (2012); Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2012); Hayward Gallery, London (2011); Kunstmuseum Bern (2009); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2008); Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, Malaga, Spain (2008); Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2003); and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2002). In 2007 Emin represented Great Britain at the 52nd Venice Biennale and her installation My Bed has been included in ‘In Focus’ displays at Tate Britain with Francis Bacon (2015), Tate Liverpool with William Blake and also at Turner Contemporary, Margate alongside JMW Turner (2017). In 2011, Emin was appointed Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and in 2012 was made Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her contributions to the visual arts.
In December 2020, a major solo exhibition titled ‘Tracey Emin / Edvard Munch: The Loneliness of the Soul’, will open at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. The exhibition will tour to the Munch Museum in Oslo in spring 2021, followed by the unveiling of her permanent public commission, The Mother, at Oslo’s Museum Island.
Tracey Emin’s expressive and visceral art is one of disclosure, dealing with personal experience and heightened states of emotion. Frank and intimate but universal in its relevance, her work draws on the fundamental themes of love, desire, loss and grief, unravelling in the process the nuanced constructs of ‘woman’ and ‘self’ through probing self-exploration. ‘The most beautiful thing is honesty, even if it’s really painful to look at’, she has remarked.FULL PROFILE