There’s been much furor ahead of Tracey Emin’s latest exhibition, ‘I Cried Because I Love You’, not least because it is her first solo venture in greater China – and rumoured to be her last before she embarks on a yearlong sabbatical. Opened this week to coincide with Art Basel fair in Hong Kong, the frenzy surrounding the British artist’s major new show might only be overshadowed by the startling revelation she married a large, ancient stone in her garden in southern France last summer.
Spread over White Cube and Lehmann Maupin galleries in Central, the exhibition brings together older pieces alongside new paintings, drawings, embroideries and neon works. A narrative centred on her impromptu union (wearing her father’s funeral shroud in lieu of a wedding dress, no less) threads the duet of shows – fittingly, two become one.
‘It’s about me being able to not have to define myself within a gallery, within a space, within a country,’ she explains in the exhibition catalogue to Carl Freedman. ‘I can just make my work and show it, that’s what’s important to me.’ To wit, the show is typically Emin: unabashedly confessional in its nude drawings of splayed female figures; yearning words scrawled in light and across canvases; and raw, explosive brushstrokes.
Emin doesn’t deviate far from the artist we know, yet, her new works seem bolstered by a newfound sense of self-acceptance, perhaps the result of her recent union. ‘You can find people to have sex with, but, you know, loving them is something else,’ she said. The marriage to the stone (it’s not a rock, Emin insists) is a metaphor about the longing to be with someone and the stability that comes with enduring love.
‘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,’ she has said. ‘I think my big mistake is loving people too much.’ However droll Emin is, the more she chastises journalists, the bitterer her acerbic tongue becomes: the more we try to love her.