'I Cried Because I Love You': Tracey Emin's confessional self-portraiture at Art Basel Hong Kong

'I Cried Because I Love You': Tracey Emin's confessional self-portraiture at Art Basel Hong Kong


Text: Adibah Isa

Image: Ben Westoby,
George Darrell — Courtesy of Lehmann Maupin and White Cube

Confessional art by Tracey Emin is one of the things you can look forward to at Art Basel in Hong Kong

It's British art's enfant terrible at her best: Raw, naked, and candid.

She's been called a lot of things: Poetic, vulgar, garish — but the 52-year-old still remains a household name. A mention of her isn't complete without referencing her 1998 work, 'My Bed', which featured Emin's own bed surrounded with cigarette butts, empty beer bottles, used condoms, worn panties and stained sheets. Depicting the aftermath of a nervous breakdown, it was recently on display at Tate Britain last year.

Tracey Emin, 'My Bed'

Another notable work is 'Everyone I've Ever Slept With 1963-1995', which saw the names of lovers, friends and family embroidered in a small tent, which viewers could walk in and out of. Lets just say that if you've ever been intimate with the artist, you best watch your back — the ghost of your relationship might just resurface in art.

The confessional nature of her work has also been expressed in neon scriptures, whose pictures often make their way to Tumblr posts complementing teenage angst or anxiety. In fact, her emotive words have even been inscribed to jewellery, by way of a recent collaboration with Stephen Webster.

Tracey Emin, 'You Made Me Love You'

For Art Basel Hong Kong 2016, Emin will present another self-portraiture, 'I Cried Because I Love You'. Featuring past techniques such as embroidery and neon sculpture as well as new drawing skills she's picked up, it's a diverse showing of her first solo exhibition in Greater China.

Looking at this body of work, you'll notice a singular narrative that binds them all — that of a large stone located outside Emin's studio in Southern France. The artist's drawings depict a marriage ceremony that took place there last summer, where she wore a white shroud that was meant to adorn her father's body at his funeral. Emin describes her union with the stone as a solid form that stands and endures love.

Tracey Emin, 'Another Love Story'

Tracey Emin, 'I Love You'

Two decades into her career (she gained recognition in 1988 as one of the Young British Artists, along with Damien Hirst), the artist has now matured through her drawings, which she worked from photographs of herself. Now a Royal Academician of the Royal Academy of Arts, she's also shared that 'I Cried Because I Love You' is also an exhibition about coming to terms with aging.

From her resume, you'd reckon Emin sounds like the kind of woman sexist men love to call crazy. But from this woman's point of view, we'd like to think she's just a self-assured (albeit self-absorbed) individual who's confident enough to just let it all hang out — proudly displaying her feelings of loneliness, desire, bitterness and loss.

"I think I've cried over more people that I love than people that I hate," Emin shares.  "I don't think I've really hated hardly anyone. I think my big mistake is loving people too much."

Tracey Emin, 'Waiting For Morning'

'I Cried Because I Love You' will take place from 21 March to 21 May at Lehmann Maupin and White Cube in Hong Kong. For more information of Art Basel Hong Kong 2016, click here.