Monday, 30 July 2012

Review of Another London: International Photographers Capture City Life 1930-1980 at Tate Britain

Another London: International Photographers Capture City Life 1930-1980
Tate Britain
27 July – 16 September 2012

“Like a well-cut gem London has a thousand facets and in all of them is a picture.”[1]

To coincide with the 2012 Olympics, a time when the eyes of the world will be turned towards London, Tate Britain is hosting an exhibition showcasing some 177 black and white photographs, taken by 41 international photographers, who themselves came to London between the years of 1930 and 1980 and captured images to portray the city and its communities through their outsider eyes. Although there are many iconic locations and typically British motifs, such as Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, the bulldog, bowler hats, red buses and pigeons, the general preference of the photographers seems to have been to focus on people rather than places. As Bruce Davidson (born 1933) says: “I began to realise that my view of England […] was not going to be that of Big Ben, the Tower of London, or the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. It was going to more about people seen on the streets…”[2]

[1] from E O Hoppé The Image of London (1935)
[2] from Bruce Davidson and Mark Howarth-Booth England/Scotland 1960 (2005), cited in exhibition guide booklet

To read the rest of this review please go to:

Review of Gravity and Disgrace at Blain | Southern

Gravity and Disgrace
Blain | Southern
11 July – 25 August 2012

Gravity and Disgrace is a three person show, curated by Rachel Howard (born 1969), bringing her own work together with that of Jane Simpson (born 1965) and Amelia Newton Whitelaw (born 1984), and inspired by the Hayward Gallery’s 1993 exhibition Gravity and Grace: The Changing Condition of Sculpture, 1965-1975. The exhibition has, as its underlying themes, questions surrounding mental health and (in-)stability, something which is a common motif in Howard’s own work, not least in her Suicide Series, from which the two paintings on display here originate. Another key aspect, adopted from the Hayward show, is the exploration of materiality, and the rejection of traditional artistic media.

Upon entering the gallery, one is hit first and foremost by Newton Whitelaw’s sculptural triptych – not just visually, but also olfactorily. The youngest of the three artists, Newton Whitelaw has been working, for the past three years, with Anselm Kiefer in Paris. From him she has learnt an important lesson: not to be afraid of weight. Accordingly, she has introduced large pieces of stone (menhirs) into her work, and the example here, propped up solely by a twig, and held in tension by a pulley system comprising a rope, some netting, and a quantity of salt dough – from whence the “funky” (as she describes it) smell – which now lays splatted across the floor, an off-white cow pat of approximately two metres diameter, cracked across the surface like tectonic plates, and bubbled on the surface akin to ocean spume. The work, entitled There are no Accidents (2012), is as much a performance as it is a completed piece, since the dough, a substance which was used by the ancient Egyptians to preserve their dead pharaohs, was only added to the netting on the night of the private view, during which is was drawn through the net, and on to the floor, by the force of gravity. Even though now in one place, it will take two weeks to fully stop moving and to set.

Simpson is somewhat less convinced that there will be no accidents when it comes to her work, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (2008), for which she has rigged up a sewing machine covered in ice. There is no actual water source, however, and the moisture is taken directly from the air and chilled using a cooler underneath. As such, the sculpture responds rather like a barometer, melting if the temperature in the gallery rises, and growing as it cools back down again. Laid out across the machine’s table is what Simpson terms “a really polite dagger!” The idea of the piece is to create a sense of drama, both in terms of what is about to happen, and what might just have occurred.

Both this tension and the 1950s periodisation carry over into Howard’s painting Eva (study) (2005), which hangs on the wall behind. Based on the first online forensic image she found during her Suicide Series research, depicting a real and tragic incident from that decade, the work depicts a shadowy kneeling woman, painted in black, set against a pale yellow background. Her dress is patterned and floral, and the sense of era is as heavy as the sadness of her desperation, and the added weight from the fact that, because she was kneeling, she might have chosen to save herself at any time. Howard’s second painting, Suicide Painting 4 (2007), works with the same colours, but is purely abstract. Her lines of black household gloss paint were drawn across the yellow background by gravitational pull, as, during the process of creation, Howard turned the canvas several times, allowing for the force of nature to play its part. It is, therefore, as much a work by gravity’s hand, as by Howard’s own.

The final two works by Simpson consist of two small showcases filled with her mother’s antiques, Japanesey Moment (2008) and Turkish Delight (2008) respectively. Although some might see these as morbid, particularly since her mother is still alive, Simpson proclaims them to be “very positive” and “absolutely cathartic”, a releasing of the inheritance, and a setting free. Packed around the objects themselves are various egg-shapes and balls, suggestive perhaps both of polystyrene packing material, but also of reproduction, family lineage, and generations.

The works in this exhibition all carry their own weight, and all bear it well. Gravity may interfere, and, in some instances, even direct, but the result is far from a disgrace – the works stand proud and tall, telling their own, and others’, stories.


Gravity and Disgrace installation shots
Photographer: Jon Day
Images courtesy of the artists and Blain|Southern

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Review of Road to 2012: Aiming High at the National Portrait Gallery

Road to 2012Aiming High
National Portrait Gallery
19 July - 23 September 2012

When one thinks of the Olympic or Paralympic Games, everyone’s first thought is of the myriad multi-talented athletes taking part. What many of us tend to overlook, however, is the sheer number of people involved behind the scenes, both in the run up to the event, and during the summer weeks themselves. Part of the London 2012 Festival, a 12-week nationwide celebration running from 21 June to 9 September, Road to 2012 is a three year photographic project, hosted by the National Portrait Gallery and sponsored by BT, capturing and celebrating the build up to the Games.

To read the rest of this article, please go to pp. 34-35 of issue 2 of SLIK magazine

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Review of Diane Arbus: Affinities at Timothy Taylor Gallery

Diane Arbus: Affinities
Timothy Taylor Gallery
26 June – 17 August 2012

Affinity was a concept central to the work of Diane Arbus (1923-1971) throughout her career. She was not so much concerned, however, with capturing an identical likeness between her sitters, as with exploring the notion of masquerade, performance, costume, and identity. She also had an underlying fascination with “freaks”, or people who don’t quite fit in to society’s prescribed categories of “normal”.

To coincide with the major exhibition of her works, currently on show at the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin, Timothy Taylor Gallery is hosting a smaller but comprehensive exhibition of 32 of Arbus’ works, spanning her career, and some of which have never before been shown in the UK.

To read the rest of this review, please go to:

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Review of De-Construct/Re-Construct/We-Construct: Israeli-British experimental art project at Arbeit Gallery

Israeli-British experimental art project
Arbeit Gallery
19 – 29 July 2012

In what is now his second international project, Israeli curator Sharon Toval has teamed up with London-based Nimrod Vardi to undertake an exciting creative experiment, in a virtual art laboratory, the physical outcome of which can now been seen in Vardi’s Arbeit Gallery on Helmet Row, just around the corner from Old Street Station. Pairing up three Israeli artists with three Brits, and giving them a very basic starting point from which to proceed, the collaborative process then evolved over four months, during which time the pairs shared and exchanged, created and destroyed, added to and erased their co-produced works via a system of online studios. But to what extent was each artist able to let go of his own sense of subjective authorship and the right to possess and protect his work, and how far could he submit to the experience of mutatis mutandis at the mercy of another pair of hands?

The journey of each pair was very different, and this can be seen not only in the works on show, but also in the feedback provided on the process, which, according to all concerned, was a more significant part of the experiment than the resultant exhibitions themselves. (There will be a second show, following on from and referencing this one, albeit with the pairs having been “reshuffled”, in the cooperative art gallery Alfred, in Tel Aviv, in October.) The couples, who only met in person at the point of installation, spent an intense few months creatively influencing and merging with one another, or, in some instances, not. The artists’ talk at the gallery, on 22 July, provided an interesting snapshot of their resultant relationships – rather like the post-event evaluations and moments of truth on “Blind Date”!

The collaboratively most successful “couple” was Israeli painter, Abraham (Avi) Kritzmann, and London-based mixed media artist, Cos Ahmet. From the very beginning, the two found themselves so well aligned that they even often independently thought of uploading the same images to their virtual databank. During the ensuing artistic conversation, or “visual ping-pong”, Kritzmann says: “I was not even thinking ‘What would Avi do?’, but ‘What would Cos and Avi do?’” “You have to be really responsive to the other person,” adds Ahmet, and it was a case of working “stack and layer”. But, as they sit side-by-side in the gallery, in front of their joint output, they seem content with how things went. Their work is further symptom and proof of this, with the largest piece, Incision, depicting two mirror image bodies, organs exposed, united by a reel of black and white intestine, entwined and coiling from one to the other, symbolic of a process of symbiosis or twinning, the merging of two distinct entities to become one, just as in the case of the artists themselves.

In the case of painters Orly Dvir and Daniel Bourke, however, the journey of each artist, although commencing from a starting point of shared technique, led in a very different direction. Dvir confesses that she was unable to distance herself from her cultural context, and her work, Aqaba, reinforces this, with its depiction of the heat of the Israeli desert: arid, barren, yellows and oranges, and flames. She and Bourke ended up exhibiting separate works, with his two paintings of near-photographic tulips against abstracted, geometrically divided, blue and white backgrounds being as far from her desert imagery as conceivable. The pair is sitting apart, either side of Toval, and each is underlining their differences. The process, according to Bourke, was “difficult” and “frustrating”. Nevertheless, he feels he learnt a lot from the experiment, and that the collaboration and communication – represented here by the inclusion of a blog of their virtual dialogue – did effect a change upon his working method.

Finally, there is photographer Barak Brinker, who ended up working alone after his partner, Leonie Lachlan, abandoned the project two months in. His works, a two-and-a-half minute film loop, Seagulls, portraying a dark night sky above crashing yellow-tinted waves, with white gulls bobbing back and forth, and three black and white inkjet prints, contrasting floodlights and shrouded skeleton scaffolding, all reflect the lonely void he felt when left “working with a ghost.”

The exhibition is interesting, not least for its creative journey, and I shall certainly be following it to its Israeli completion. The notions of objectivity and subjectivity were pushed to their limits, and these limits were shown to be different from case to case. Toval lays claim that “the notion of possession of an artwork was completely erased,” and that the work instead began to define itself, directing its own destiny. However one sees it, the experiment was clearly a success, even where the non-mutual output might suggest otherwise: asked if they would do it again, there was a resounding yes from all corners.


Abraham Kritzmann and Cos Ahmet

Orly Dvir

Daniel Bourke
Tulip no. 1

Barak Brinker

Monday, 16 July 2012

Review of Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 at the National Gallery

Metamorphosis: Titian 2012
National Gallery
11 July – 23 September 2012

As its contribution to the Cultural Olympiad, the National Gallery has undertaken a ground-breaking collaboration, their first with the Royal Opera House, bringing together three contemporary visual artists (Chris Ofili, Conrad Shawcross and Mark Wallinger), seven choreographers, three composers, a librettist, and various poets, all responding to three paintings by Titian (ca. 1490 – 1576), now proudly secured for the nation (two in conjunction with Scottish National Gallery). These three pictures, painted for the Spanish king Phillip II in the late 16th century, take as their subject Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and depict the scenes from it where Callisto, one of Diana’s nymphs, is banished for having fallen pregnant (Diana and Callisto, 1556-59), the moment at which the naïve hunter Actaeon stumbles in upon the nymphs bathing (Diana and Actaeon, 1556-59), and the ensuing act of revenge whereby Diana turns Actaeon into a stag, who is then devoured by his own hounds (The Death of Actaeon, 1559-75). The subjects were chosen by Titian himself and considered so erotic and sensual at the time that they were hung in a room intended for men only, and covered whenever a lady should enter. This, of course, echoes the notions of trespass, revealing and concealing, intrinsic to the works themselves. The final painting depicting the death scene never actually made it to the court of Phillip II, and the three paintings, therefore, have not been hung together since their time in Titian’s studio.

To read the rest of this review please go to:

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Review of Out of the Stable at Xavier White’s, Blackheath

Out of the Stable
Xavier White’s, Blackheath
14 July – 31 August 2012

With the Olympic equestrian events taking place in Greenwich Park this summer, what better theme for an art exhibition, five minutes down the road from the stables on Blackheath, than, yes, you’ve guessed it, horses? Never one to miss a trick, artist and curator Xavier White accordingly put out a call for equestrian-themed submissions back in March 2012, and the resultant exhibition, Out of the Stable, is on show now in the front room gallery of his spacious Victorian town house in Vanbrugh Park. The show brings together over 30 works by 15 artists and, what is most staggering about it, despite the focused subject, is the variety of media employed.

White himself is a glass artist, and, on the back of his own contribution, Jump (2012), a beautiful stained glass window depicting a horse and jockey leaping over the Olympic rings and into a rainbow, and the works which flank this, also windows, by Lesley Marrion-Cole and Delia Scales, Out of the Stable is proud to also be part of the Contemporary Glass Society’s Glass Games 2012, an extravaganza of nationwide glass-based events celebrating the Olympic spirit.

There are several photography works in the exhibition, and these range from Nie William’s soulful black and white portrait Ceffyl (2012), to the conversation-provoking Riding for a Fall (2012) by Coral Howard, a series of six photographs of a Barbie doll jockey falling from her steed, which, interestingly, could be placed in various orders with subtly different interpretations regarding her skill and attachment to her horse, to Kate Kotcheff’s beautifully textured close-up of a horse’s flank, Barrel (2012), taken at the annual Cheapside Fayre. The latter, which out of context might be barely recognisable for what it is, exalts the ripples of skin and hair, and the interplay of light and shadow thereupon, to such a degree that it enjoys an almost painterly quality.

And paintings abound as well, from the wistful Blue (2012), by Bruce Risdon, galloping off into the hills beyond, to the macabre, teeth-baring Study of a Dead Horse (2010) by Gaby Gatacre.

The tone is lightened by Adam Copping’s Thelwellian cartoon, Tally Ho (2012), (which was awarded third place in the prize giving), as well as by overall winner Grazing Mule (2012), by Lisa Slater, an endearing little wooden sculpture, with a log body and brush mane and tail, standing atop a box with handle, which, when turned, causes the mule to, quite literally, raise and lower its head in a grazing gesture.

Many more works could be singled out for comment, but the show is so delightful that my best advice would be to trot on down to Blackheath and take a look for yourself.


Xavier White

Kate Kotcheff

Bruce Risdon

Gaby Gatacre
Study of a Dead Horse

Lisa Slater
Grazing Mule

For a similar piece to Grazing Mule in action, see:

Call Xavier on 07 88 99 72 374 to arrange a viewing

Friday, 13 July 2012

Review of Jacob Hashimoto: The Other Sun at Ronchini Gallery

Jacob Hashimoto: The Other Sun
Ronchini Gallery
29 June – 28 August 2012

If you’re ever one to wander around with a feeling of having your head in the clouds, pop along to Jacob Hashimoto’s current exhibition at Ronchini Gallery. Walking in from the rainy street is like floating up to the less water-sodden cumulus above. Immediately, you are surrounded by suspended rice paper kites, some oval white ones just about head height; others, bluer, dangling aloft. Projecting below is a mass of yellow hexagons, like rays of sunlight bursting through and vanquishing the downpour. The effect is enchanting and uplifting, intimate, almost verging on twee, but too beautifully crafted for that.

Hashimoto (born 1973, Colorado) uses traditional kite making techniques to stretch the coloured paper across bamboo frames. These are then strung together and suspended from parallel dowels, creating site-specific installations into which the audience is swept up. Foot lights shining up from the floor at the front of the gallery cause shadows and haloes to cascade around you. In one corner, the kites are heavily patterned: discs with dots and squares and circles of all different colours and sizes, capturing, perhaps, the blurred visions you might experience after staring at the sun for too long.

The temptation to linger and bask in the sunlight is hard to resist, and daydreams flow freely in this space. No matter in what state you arrived, you will certainly leave the gallery in a reverie, with your head truly up there amongst the clouds.


Jacob Hashimoto
The Other Sun
Bamboo, paper, dacron, acrylic, cotton thread
Courtesy: the artist and Ronchini Gallery 
Photo: Michele Sereni

Jacob Hashimoto
Bamboo, paper, dacron, acylic
h92 x w72 x d20 cm
Courtesy: the artist and Ronchini Gallery

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Review of Mike Meiré: Economy of Attention at Bartha Contemporary

Mike Meiré: Economy of Attention
Bartha Contemporary
6 July – 18 August 2012

Mike Meiré (born 1964) is something of a polymath: art director, artist, designer, architect, photographer, curator and editor. For the past 25 years, he has been running the design agency, Meiré and Meiré, along with his brother Marc, and his own creative work has continually challenged the boundaries between commercial design and art and craft.

One of his most successful, as well as controversial, editorial design projects was the redesign, in 2009-10, of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), which, begun in 1780, is one of the oldest newspapers still in print. Add to that the fact that it is Swiss (and Meiré is German), and that the previous most recent change had been way back in 1946 when the font was altered, and you begin to get an idea of the scale of the project!

For his fist solo show at Bartha Contemporary, Meiré has brought together a series of works on paper – or, more precisely, newsprint – directly related to this editorial experience. Taking pages from the NZZ, he has marked them up into the various grids that he employed for the redesign, and painted these in with varying colours of household lacquer from a DIY shop. Often applying several coats, the result is a palimpsest of matter and meaning, questioning the role of the media in both presenting and concealing the truth.

Many of the pages Meiré used were filled with obituaries, and he speaks of his overlaying of Rothko-esque colour fields in grid formation as something of a vanitas motif, reminding us of the banality and transience of all things earthly. Most of the blocks are opaque, with a contrast between matt and gloss paint; some, however, are transparent black washes, through which the original news text and images remain visible, as, for example, in Olympia (2012), where Manet’s taboo-breaking nude stares out at the viewer from behind the veil, further challenging conceptions of what ought to be revealed or concealed. Along these same lines, photocopied sheets of NZZ front pages lie scattered across the gallery floor, all from the same issue, all depicting Julian Assange, and thus unabashedly addressing the theme of the hiding of information – precisely what Meiré himself is doing by blocking out the newspapers’ texts.

There is something almost anthropomorphic about the pages, with Feelings (2011), in particular, having the appearance of a weather-worn palm – and, indeed, weather-worn it is, for Meiré, keen to test the limits of the paper, not only in terms of how much paint it could take, left this sheet out on the roof in Spain for several months, come rain or shine.

Two works in the exhibition are simply the frame of the page, with the grid squares cut out. They hang limp on the wall, from a nail, and bear the titles Schlaffes Grün (2012) and Schlaffes Gelb (“schlaff” translates as “droopy” or “limp”, “grün” and “gelb” as “green” and “yellow” respectively – the colours of the paint used on each frame). Echoing the obituary content of the pages’ past existence, they dangle lifeless like an empty corpse left behind post-mortem.

In amongst these works on paper stand four of Meiré’s ceramic sculptures. Although becoming more abstract of late, there is, at first, a seemingly strange contrast between these sexually explicit works and the anodyne newspaper pages. Describing these 3D pieces, Meiré says: “My organic ceramic sculptures are flowing forms associated with male and female genitals. At the outset of life, a human is not yet conclusively defined as man or woman. Thus these sculptures can be read as a kind of archaic battle of the sexes, following their instinct for survival.”[1] And it is thus that he describes his work as a whole: concerned with the basic theme of “life with its stations: birth, biography, death.”[2] As such, it is perhaps not so difficult to see the common thread between the works on paper and the sculptures after all: genitals, sexuality, procreation and birth; news stories, human interest and biography; obituaries, vanitas, transience, banality and death. Life with its stations, documented and displayed.

[1] Mike Meiré quoted in ‘Corpus Delicatus’ by Kathrin Luz, in Mike Meiré – Day In Day Out, Meurer Verlag: Cologne, 2010.
[2] ibid


Mike Meiré 
Don't Shoot The Messenger
Site specific Installation

Mike Meiré
Programed and Conditioned I - IV
Lacquer-paint on newspaper
Each 55.5 x 38 cm
Courtesy Bartha Contemporary, London
© Mike Meiré

Mike Meiré
Lacquer-paint on newspaper
163 x 116 cm
Courtesy Bartha Contemporary, London
© Mike Meiré

Mike Meiré
Lacquer-paint on newspaper
55.5 x 38 cm
Courtesy Bartha Contemporary, London
© Mike Meiré

Mike Meiré
Lacquer-paint on newspaper
55.5 x 38 cm
Courtesy Bartha Contemporary, London
© Mike Meiré

Installation shot
Courtesy Bartha Contemporary, London
© Mike Meiré

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Review of Tracey Emin: She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea at Turner Contemporary

Tracey Emin: She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea
Turner Contemporary
26 May – 23 September 2012

If one were to judge an exhibition purely by its popularity, the fact that Tracey Emin’s home-coming show at Turner Contemporary, in the seaside resort of Margate, where she infamously grew up, caused a traffic jam into town on the day of its opening, speaks for itself. The show was originally going to be a collection of her Margate works but now contains a varied collection on the themes of love, sex and eroticism, a restaging of The Vanishing Lake (a small exhibition she held last autumn in Fitzroy Square, London), and a room full of new works, bringing the display right up to date, since, as she says, “I wanted to do something new for Margate, to say thank you, really.”

Instructed by gallery assistants, as well as, if you choose to pay the nominal charge for an otherwise free exhibition, by an informative and well-worth-the-money audio- and video-guide featuring, amongst others, Emin herself, the visitor is led around the show in a largely chronological fashion. The large West Gallery is replete with recognisable and repetitively similar female nudes, including the Sex 25-11-07 Sydney series (2007), here comprising 16 sheets of watercolour on paper, as well as a number of likewise monochromatically blue gouache works, dating from a 2011 trip Emin made to Italy. Rather than the colour being deliberately representative of anything, it was simply a case, as the artist explains, of that being the only tube of paint to hand, along with her sketch book, when, one night, in her hotel room above a grotto, she was too excited to sleep. Critics, Emin warns, might complain that her works, with their splayed legs and featureless faces, are “quite base or simplistic”, and indeed they are –  deliberately so! “It’s like cavemen drawings. […] I want to strip back to something that really means something to me,” she explains. “It’s an attempt to avoid over-intellectualising.”

Usually, however, the titles come first. Emin is constantly writing, since this is something which makes her feel safe, as well as being a catalyst for her art. In fact, to her, the words are the art: “It’s not text-based work, it’s poetry.” Equally, she is keen to assure, it’s not erotic work, it’s about love. Erotica doesn’t do it for her; feelings do. “Every time I’m being fucked, I feel like I’m being crucified.” Instead, the images suggesting the deepest love depict Docket, her cat. The Big and the Small (2011), for example, is a basic outline of a person and a cat lying on a bed, and Thank You (2011) also depicts a cat, clawing at the sofa on which a female figure is lying.

Next door, in the smaller South Gallery, Emin has recreated The Vanishing Lake. This is very much a case in point of the importance she places on creating an entire space, and not just displaying individual works. The title is a reference to her home in France, near to which there is a lake, filled from November to March, when it rains, but barren throughout the dry summer months. The work carrying the same title as the room comprises a rusty bathtub with a crumpled Union Jack inside – a self-portrait and metaphor for how Emin sees her life now. Upon the apple green walls hang portraits based on Picasso’s drawings of Marie-Thérèse, alongside numerous further references to love, rather than sex. The beautifully worded Love Letter (2011), for example, declares: “I want to make love with you. Not just in my mind. But in my heart and soul.”

Continuing the tour to the narrow Irene Willett Gallery – more a corridor, really – we find a celebration of erotic sketches and female nudes, not just by Emin, but also by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) and J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) (it is promise of the gallery to include works by its namesake in each and every exhibition). Emin chose these works because she wanted to show a “loving, sensitive, sensual side to these men,” as well as to place herself firmly within the larger tradition: “People can see where I’m coming from – not just Margate, but in terms of art history.” Rodin and Turner made their sketches very much in private (Turner’s are from when he used to visit Petworth House and, surrounded by louche society, would fill his sketchbook with images of dishevelled beds), which, at first, might seem quite contrary to Emin’s public persona, given she has been described by journalist and broadcaster Gordon Burns as “a creature of, by and for the media.” Nevertheless, her own works in this space are muted and blurred smudges of very watery watercolour, often nothing more than a simple wash, with images merely suggested. These are a far cry from her louder, much more direct and explicit works for which she is both loved and hated.

Finally, in the North Gallery, we reach the darker, increasingly mature, new works. Alongside further sculptural self-portraits, we find Dead Sea (2012), an old stained mattress, on the ground, with a bronze branch strewn heavily across it – comparisons with the notorious My Bed (1998) are unavoidable, with this being a withered and worn rendering of the previous motif. The tapestries in this room are woven a stark black, and the words on the print Red Chain Front View (2012) read “I AM AFRAID.” Described as bleak and sombre, these works are actually something of a double-edged sword, representative of how Emin feels now, as a woman of nearly 50. “I’m only positive at the moment because I’ve given up the fight.” Nevertheless, asked how she wants to be remembered, her answer is clear: “laughing!” Her work, as “open, direct, and achingly honest” (as Director of Turner Contemporary, Victoria Pomery, describes the show) as ever, has always been full of contradictions, full of love and sex, full of joy and horror. Perhaps, therefore, it is not so far removed when Stephen Fry says of Emin: “You are the living embodiment of what Keats called the ‘egoistical sublime’.”


Tracey Emin
She Lay down Deep Beneath The Sea 
© the artist  
courtesy White Cube  
photo Ben Westoby 

Tracey Emin
Sex 1 25-11-07 Sydney 
©Tracey Emin / Tracey Emin studio

Tracey Emin
Laying on Blue 
Gouache on paper 
© the artist 
courtesy of White Cube  
photo Ben Westoby 

Tracey Emin 
I Didn’t Say 
Gouache on paper 
© the artist 
courtesy of White Cube  
photo Ben Westoby