Tracey Emin, She Lay Down Beneath The Sea, Turner Contemporary
THE term Emperor's New Clothes has been used by many regarding Emin's work.
They deem her a con, talentless, marketing herself on shock value and sex. Some even say it has been friends in high places who have given her fame and that she has played on her notoriety.
Every successful product, including art, needs to be marketed and needs a unique selling point. There are millions of superb artists churning out competent, pleasing pictures, many seen at Thanet's art shows.
Emin's work is different – which is why people want to see it – and, I suggest, brave.
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I doubt anyone could do what she does and face the response, not even the equally contentious Damian Hirst.
The show at Turner Contemporary did not appeal to me. There is a fine line between eroticism and porn. Had some images been captured on camera instead of in ink, they would not look out of place in the magazines on the top shelf of a newsagent's.
One wonders whether these seemingly hasty sketches were ever intended for public viewing, or just as the scribbled memories of intimate moments.
But even though I don't particularly like them, they are compelling because they convey such vulnerability. Here is a woman who lays bare her emotions on canvas. She says of the show: "It is all about weight and the intensity of everything on top of you."
Indeed. Pictures illustrate her angst with textual comments such as: The Confusion Is I Love You, I Cannot Love How Love Is Told It Should Be Maybe I Am Different, There Is No More Me, Never Forget Me and Some Time Dead.
The words mean much, perhaps more than the illustrations, for Emin has said that she wishes to be known as a text-based artist. It is as though she has torn out her heart and laid herself open to the pain of love. One piece wails: I Am Telling You It Hurt.
The show is not comfortable viewing. I would not like an Emin on my wall. But I wouldn't mind one in the bank.
Many a critic would be prepared to use her this way.
Maybe that's Emin's whole point.