Tracey Emin, The Last Great Adventure is You at White Cube, Bermondsey

Oh Tracey, how I love thee (not least because you spell your first name the correct way). I love that your work makes me feel uncomfortable, that even though it is self indulgent and all about you, it never seems to come easy and is a struggle for you to get it all out. But there was something about this exhibition that just didn’t seem right.

Tracey Emin naked sketch White Cube Bermondsey

Tracey Emin, Too Relaxed, 2014 Source: White Cube Gallery website

I saw her her exhibition in Margate in 2012 and these sketches and tapestries seemed like left-overs from that show, but really tame versions without the scrawling messages and feeling of having interrupted someone’s private, unfinished art therapy session. Why?

Perhaps, because they’re ‘nice’ rather than revealing. Many are sketches of a naked woman in her 50s who has already bared all and openly taken us with her through a life-long therapy session, but now perhaps that therapy has worked and she’s more relaxed and at ease with herself. And that doesn’t leave much of a lasting memory. I don’t wish her to be more confused and tortured just to create some alarming art, but at the same time, ‘nice’ isn’t really what I want from an art show.

If these open and naked sketches had been created by a woman in her 50s who had never bared all before, who had never looked at herself in this way and was using them as a way to express herself to the world for the first time, then that would be an interesting and captivating show. Even if the actual sketches were the same as on show here. Is that double standards? I don’t think so because the story behind art and how it makes you feel is always important, otherwise some pieces of canvas with some words sewn on would never have made Emin into a millionaire in the first place.

And the bronzes? I didn’t really get those at all.

The Last Great Adventure is You
White Cube Gallery, Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ


Until 16 November 2014


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