Tracey Emin: The Last Great Adventure Is You at White Cube
The cool, white space of White Cube is the perfect setting for Tracey Emin’s latest exhibition. Focused on the female nude, The Last Great Adventure Is You is actually less about you, and more about Emin. Would you expect anything less from an artist who has been making openly confessional work for over two decades now?
Sketches of the female form hang uniformly on the wall, each depicting a position. Quite honestly, there seems to be very little difference between them; they are barely distinguishable except for their differing titles. It’s difficult to fathom what Emin is trying to say. Further along the wall, there appear several sketches of a woman lying on her back with one hand behind her head and her knees bent, occasionally lying on something and other times not. Emin names them: Think of You Too Much, Alone Is OK and In My Mind. Yet the pose is the same and very little is changed, so it’s natural to ask: “Am I missing something here?”
There are some larger nudes embroidered on calico, which just bring more of the same. It’s not until you enter a gallery room that the exhibition really comes to life. We are met by a turquoise neon sign that says “Your absence only makes me love you more”, and Emin gives us more. Nude sketches of women and men take on pastel colours, inviting us into the dreaminess of Emin’s sexuality. Just Us and You Are Here remind us of a longing for the closeness and unity that sex brings. Further along, Emin’s clever use of blank, unused space and an adage in white neon declaiming “More Solitude” hint at our own isolation, even as we pace amid a sea of people, all doing the same thing.
Bronze sculptures, mostly of the female torso, make up the final part. Although they show little detail, the positioning is provocative and again we gain insight into Emin’s sensuality. The most beautiful sculpture is of a white bird sitting on what could be a chalk cliff edge or broken tree trunk. Simple and beautiful, it truly epitomises its name: I Love You.
According to Emin, this exhibition is about coming to terms with ageing. It is debatable whether she manages to achieve that, but it is a highly sensual display that celebrates sexuality rather than covering it up. And there really isn’t much hidden here – certainly not Emin’s irresistible personality, with pulses of oestrogen charging every inch of space.
Tracey Emin: The Last Great Adventure Is You is on at White Cube until 16th of November 2014, for further information visit here.