Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Tracey Emin: Love Is What You Want - Review

Love Is What You Want at the South Bank's Hayward Gallery provides an excellent insight into the life and work of one of Britain's most famous and controversial artists.

Tracey Emin's art is deeply personal. She unashamedly takes her own life as the inspiration for her work, which makes for some challenging and provocative subject matter.

The exhibition is explicit and not for the faint-hearted. Tracey Emin plays out her life like a drama, in all its gory detail. Artifacts from her childhood, hospital visits and love life are displayed as art - a personal retrospective. Her trademark "Blankets" and her work in Neon lights were the highlights of the show.

This exhibition gives a unique insight into Emin's early life growing up in Margate and some of the formative events that have overshadowed her work, particularly her sex life and (botched) abortions.

In two of the video clips, that are one of the most engaging parts of this exhibition, Tracey Emin talks candidly about being humiliated by a group of boys who shouted her off the stage [shouting "Slag", "Slag" . . . . ] at a local dance competition; and narrates in graphic detail her botched abortion.

The presentation of the neon slogans in close succession along a dark passage, reminiscent of a Soho backstreet by night, was inspired curation.

I must say that it was disappointing that Tracey Emin'sr most famous piece, namely My Bed (1998), which was controversially short-listed for the Turner Prize in 1999, was absent from the exhibition.

Tracey Emin would make a case study that could so easily keep a dozen psychologists and social workers busy for a life-time. Instead she has wowed and wooed art critics and created the anti-establishment persona that has earned her a place amongst "the famous". She is undoubtedly the star of her own soap opera and of this show.

The exhibition runs until 29th August

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