Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Tracey Emin: Love Is What You Want

The Haywood Gallery provides the perfect setting for Tracey Emin's dramatic, imposing works, as I found upon visiting the South Bank gallery for her latest cacophony of personal and intimate yet loud and spectacular pieces.

Even when queuing to buy tickets (£12 / £9 for students) you’re met with 47 year old Emin’s intimate musings when the artist wrote for the Independent “My Life in a Column” -- an interesting read when waiting for a late friend. I was already familiar with Emin’s intensely personal works so knew the exhibition would be on the self-obsessed side, the columns are like a pre-warning for those who don’t know.

And yet, I don’t dislike her, her colourful, beautiful yet violent and angry tapestries (above) are a look to the traditional and provide an insight into Emin’s passions and hates.

The large pier (above) with a crumbling little shack encompassing the first room of the exhibition portrays a delicate, fragile relationship with her father due to his long term alcoholism --it is both a loving and kind dream for her father and a tainted almost nightmarish piece.

The dark room (below) filled with eighties style neon lights with sayings such as ‘Love is What You Want’ are mesmerising and her installations such as an embriodered chair and a glass cabinet filled with keep-sake trinkets and items are a look into her fascinating life.

A video shows YBA Emin talking about her abortions and miscarriages -- heart wrenching topics much of the works are centred around, as well as the obvious amount of sex and masturbation frequent Emin observers have some to expect.

The works are gripping, passionate, and, at times, uncomfortable. For me, Emin as an artist is unrelatable, her tales of sex, hatred, passion, love and death are in themselves relatable, but the way they’re conveyed through intimate sketchings and sumptuous installation and paintings are less so.

This does not make it an unenjoyable experience 'Love is What You Want' is thrill to behold -- gripping, intriguing, amusing, and absorbing -- but expect to be let in to Emin’s world, and Emin’s world alone.

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