To the narrow-minded, yes, this is a crude and vulgar representation of Emin’s own body. Blue or black watercolour, ink or stitching to create the outline of the artist’s body in a limited variety of reclining poses.
These works may seem unnecessary, and just another example of works that give Emin her media notoriety and her attention seeking thrill. However, once understood there is a lot more to these works- a solid representation of her emotional turbulence of eroticism and troubled relationships, with themes of love and sex.
Art movements can’t be the same, and repeat themselves or else there would be nothing to talk about. Bearing this in mind, this is simply another representation of the female form - one of art’s most historic and classical, repeated subject matters both in sculpture and painting - but by a contemporary artist. Other aspects of the art resonate artistic motifs, the use of the colour blue- the same shade used by Renaissance artists (lapis lazuli) and Yves Klein in his unforgettable Anthropometries, 1960 (Yves Klein Bleu). Finally, the use of embroidery (c.f. ‘Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995, 1995 ) in the stitched canvases and large tapestries is a traditional form of media (Bayeux Tapestry??).
In the final room- the North Gallery- the paint on the canvases has changed from blue to black- representing a more sombre mood, and her pose has opened up with stretched arms (as supposed to the earlier closed form) representing a sense of personal freedom.
Within the Irene Willett Gallery there are a collection of small watercolours and sketches by Rodin and Turner. These works follow a similar subject- nude figures reclining in uncomfortable poses. These are important to the exhibition in signifying how Emin’s subject matter is nothing new and these well-respected artists have a past of deep eroticism too.
The curator has brought together a strong collection of works, and the contrast with the classical pieces succeeds in a strong complimentary. However, the exhibition is slightly repetitive and narrow in Emin’s style, with a limited number of pieces not of the female form and only a few sculptures. What must be remembered is that she has succeeded on a 21st century take on a classical subject matter in a deeply emotional style.
‘Emin: She Lay Down Deep Beneath The Sea’, 26th May- 23rd September 2012, Turner Contemporary, Margate (http://www.turnercontemporary.org/exhibitions/tracey-emin-she-lay-down-deep-beneath-the-sea)
Whilst London becomes the centre of the universe for the summer as a result of the Olympics, the London galleries have to do something to keep our visitors entertained.
The Royal Academy started the show with their much acclaimed David Hockney exhibition and the rest of the galleries will continue the show.
Tate Britain has Picasso and ‘Migrations: Journeys into British Art’, Tate Modern has a long awaited Damien Hirst retrospective where the leader of the YBAs is represented in all his glory with an outlining of his entire artistic career, Jay Joplin’s White Cube represents fellow London rebels Gilbert and George and the Victoria and Albert Museum has a look back at half a century of British design.
There is plenty to see, so don’t waste all your energy watching meaningless sports on the television, but take advantage of this sound representation of British artisitic culture.
Migrations- 31st January-12th August 2012
Picasso and Modern British Art- 15th February-15th July 2012
Damien Hirst- 4th April-9th September 2012
Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye- 28th June-14th October 2012
The Queens Gallery:
Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomy- 4th May-7th October 2012
Victoria and Albert Museum:
British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age- 31st March-12th August
White Cube, Hoxton:
Gilbert and George- 9th March-12th May 2012
(gallery and exhibition reviews to come)