Hanging a Tracey Emin show is no small feat, since the boundary-crossing British artist uses neon and bronze as prolifically as she uses paint. But You Left Me Breathing at Gagosian Gallery is incredibly well hung. In the main gallery, Emin’s monumental acrylic paintings dialogue with her flashy neon flower and her patinated bronze sculptures seem to embody the vulnerable self-searching that her paintings narrate. The small drawings and monoprints hung upstairs and in the back gallery hold their own, though they could have easily been overpowered by Emin’s neon text and the nearly fourteen foot tall jesmonite sculpture, provocatively titled In Between Her Thighs.
Gagosian deserves credit for insightful curating, but most applause belongs to Emin for composing a beautifully mature body of work. For the past decade, critics have dismissed Emin’s art as childish, self-exploiting and crude. You Left Me Breathing ought to give Emin-antagonists something to think about. The pink neon that reads “I could have loved my innocence” may romanticize the idea of naiveté, but it is also as much an experiment in expressionistic mark-making as the heavy white strokes in Emin’s painting Love, Love, Love. While her work has always had an art-historical impetus—she’s been especially preoccupied with Edvard Munch and Egon Schiele—You Left Me Breathing feels like a self-assured synthesis of traditional mark-making and Emin’s own obsession with vulnerability, lost innocence, and love.
- Catherine Wagley
(*Images, from top to bottom: Tracey Emin, You Left Me Breathing, November 2 - December 22, 2007; Gagosian Gallery, With you I want to live, 2007, neon, cable and transformers; 30 x 39 x 2 1/4 in, Ed. of 3, Copyright Douglas M. Parker Studio, Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery. Tracey Emin, You Left Me Breathing, November 2 - December 22, 2007; Gagosian Gallery, I told you not to try to find me, 2007, acrylic on canvas; 80 13/16 x 110 13/16 in, Copyright Lever Rukhin, Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery. Tracey Emin, You Left Me Breathing, November 2 - December 22, 2007; Gagosian Gallery, Harder and Better, 2007, embroidered cotton; 50 x 52 in [unframed], Copyright Lever Rukhin, Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery.)