ORGAN THING: Tracey Emin, A Fortnight of Tears, opening night, big queues, She’s Marmite, bring it on, the shock of those selfies, it really is all about those big paintings though, love it, art excites, want more Marmite…

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TRACEY EMIN, A Fortnight of Tears – White Cube, Bermondsey, London SE1, Feb 2019 – will we actually get in? 

TRACEY EMIN, A Fortnight of Tears – White Cube, Bermondsey, London SE1, opening night, 5th Feb 2019 – There’s a buzz in the air walking down Bermondsey Street in the cold and the rain, there’s crowds of people all heading in the same direction, feels more like a medium sized rock concert rather than the opening of an art exhibition, there’s chatter in the air, talk of abstract painting and the point of it all, snippets of conversations, you’re almost expecting scalpers selling bootleg t-shirts at £5 a time, and look at the size of the queue, are we too late to get in? It take just over an hour to actually get to the front of the line, this is big (and rather young, this is a relatively young crowd, an excited crowd), actually the queue is fun, beer is being given out, strangers are talking to each other, people finding each other, good out here in the rain. There’s a rush when we do get in in, determined people wanting to see, look at their faces, heads down, get out of my way, let me get to the art, people want to see this…

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TRACEY EMIN, A Fortnight of Tears – White Cube, Bermondsey, London SE1, Feb 2019

The first thing that hits you, maybe as a result of the big line, certainly in terms of that first room and the initial shock of those very large selfies packed in and looking down over everyone, the first thing that hits you is that the White Cube, a big space at the best of times, somehow feels even bigger tonight. It feels really alive in here, busy, buzzing, a feeling of something, a sense of occasion, this is big in every way, and so are those sculptures! Those walls in the first room, the white cube of selfies up above you were big, the ambition of the sculptures is equally as big, powerful, strong, it all feels big – the size, the audacity of it all, how dare she think she can do this? Wh othe hell does she think she is anyway? You still feel she has to defend herself (that you have to defend her and her art, that she’s Marmite, that you have to either love her or loathe her), that she still has to say some of this with a slightly defensive chip on er shoulder,

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TRACEY EMIN, A Fortnight of Tears – White Cube, Bermondsey, London SE1, Feb 2019

The selfies hit you, the sculpture does as well but when you get in there into the meat of this bold exciting exhibition it really is all about those paintings. When everything else, all the talk and the words in neon and the things from the past, the chat shows, the bed, the interviews, the things she said, her political opinions, her shock tactics and the rest of it, push all that to the side, it really is about the drawing and paintings. And there paintings are strong, no, there’s a strength to them rather than them being strong – they’re almost fragile, they’re exciting, they’re so full of energy, so full of so so much, I almost want to say full of attitude but that the wrong word, this is about far more than attitude now, about so much more than a n artist having to assert herself, a person having to assert herself, these paintings are brilliant, the line is brilliant, the mark making is brilliant, the economy is brilliant.

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TRACEY EMIN, A Fortnight of Tears – White Cube, Bermondsey, London SE1, Feb 2019

These drawings and paintings  are alive with so much emotion, there’s so much invested in each one, in each line, in each movement of the brush, in each mark (almost) removed, each “mistake” – this is bold, this is exciting. Really want to ask so many questions about these paintings, there so much in each one, so much to explore, to enjoy, to celebrate, so much to invest your time in as a viewer, so much to see in so few marks, it looks like really fast work, was it? How? Where? Why? These paintings demand so many questions, questions about her thought, her process, about how the body of work was made, about the colour, the line, the decisions. You really do have to park all Tracey Emin’s baggage at the door and allow yourself to enjoy everything that’s here in these paintings, is enjoy the right word? There’s a lot here, a lot of hurt, a lot of cathartic emotion, but yes, you do have to enjoy the results, you do have to enjoy the quality of the actual painting, the marks, the paint over the marks, the power of not drawing a face or painting out a face, the colour range, the bits not quite removed, the drawing with a brush. Or maybe we don’t want to know about the technique, about the actual doing, the actual making, the time spent. Maybe we do just need to come back for more without knowing, just come back again to really enjoy these drawings and paintings some more.

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TRACEY EMIN, A Fortnight of Tears – White Cube, Bermondsey, London SE1, Feb 2019

Yes there’s the selfies and the (big) sculptures and the neon – really not a fan of her neon (or anyone’s neon for that matter, neon words, neon slogans, neon in coffee shops, no!). Yes, there’s lots in here, there’s a room full of smaller pieces and sketchbook pages that really deserves a few hours of your time (some of those pieces feel very personal, almost private, should sketchbooks ever be seen by anyone besides the artist?), there’s lots on here, put everything else aside though, this is about those big paintings and the painter who painted them, everything else about Tracey Emin is just baggage, this is a body of work from a very exciting painter, pile on the Marmite, give me more, I love these big painting, they excite me, I almost said they provoke me, but no, they just really excite,me, excellent, love it, no time for the afterparty, need to leave with those painting in my head, excellent! (sw)

A Fortnight of Tears is on at the White Cube, Bermondsey, London SE1 3TQ from February 6th until April 7th. Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm, Sunday, 12pm – 6pm

Click on an image to enlarge or to run the fractured slideshow and a bit of a flavour of the opening night.

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