I Thrive on Solitude
15 June – 2 August 2020
During a period of isolation in her London home, Tracey Emin made a series of works that offer insight into the sanctuary of the domestic realm. Focusing on a range of intimate interior spaces, these small paintings are concise studies that, for Emin, represent a ‘transference of emotions and place’.
After twenty years living in the same house, the artist is on the brink of leaving it for a new home. The memories and her sense of belonging, coupled with feelings of anticipation and the prospect of adventure, coalesce in these works. A glimpsed domestic object, such as a chair or bed, takes shape like an elusive recollection, while the bath, a familiar trope in art history, provides the private setting for intimate reflection. An air of stillness and tranquillity pervade the scenes, embodied by the figure reclining contentedly in the quietude.
Testament to her emotional connection to the house, Emin refers to the works as a ‘thumbprint of my time being here’. They encapsulate not only the anticipation of physical relocation, but also a psychological repositioning, through which she can envisage a new destiny. By allowing herself the freedom to embrace change, there is renewed purpose and determination in her outlook. In this sense, these works represent a subliminal shift from one state of being to another: ‘The paintings move from one house to the next, like a channel through my mind.’
The intimate scale of the paintings determines the concentrated intensity of the compositions, with a controlled energy of spirit. Content to be in secret seclusion, the reposed figure in the works appears at peace, with itself and its past. The exhibition’s title hints at this equanimity, rejecting the stigma normally associated with being alone and in silence. In solitude, there is also the opportunity to think, recollect and dream. For Emin, these works mark the transition into a resolutely optimistic future – one in which to flourish and grow.
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