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Xavier Hufkens

St-Georges & Rivoli

Tracey Emin The Memory of your Touch

Tracey Emin The Memory of your Touch
Selected works Installation views

The Memory of your Touch, the inaugural exhibition at the gallery by British artist Tracey Emin, opens this September at Xavier Hufkens as a cornerstone of its new season. Spanning both galleries and encompassing works in a wide range of media — including paintings, new bronze sculptures, works on paper, neon texts and a video — the exhibition reveals the most recent developments in Emin’s intensely personal yet profoundly universal oeuvre.

Typically working from memories and dreams, the artist captures her innermost feelings in language and the materiality of her work. The human condition in all its pathos, misery and beauty – youth and maturity, love, loss and lust, intimacy, shame, guilt, grief, crisis and death – is the driving force of her art, which is tantamount to a visible manifestation of different existential states. Eschewing mimesis, Emin focuses on transmitting the emotional essence of her experiences through a confessional but open-ended dialogue with both herself and the wider world. Viewed in its entirety, her oeuvre amounts to a vast, visceral and unsparing compendium of self-knowledge that facilitates objectivity, with the artist watching and recording her own reactions like an observer.

The title of the exhibition, The Memory of your Touch, alludes to a line in D.H. Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover(1928). When asked if she ‘misses the touch’ of her deceased husband, Mrs Bolton exclaims: ‘That’s it my Lady! the touch of him!... if there’s a heaven above, he’ll be there, and will lie up against me so I can sleep.’ The sentiment behind these words echoes the artist’s own awareness of the transient memories associated with a vanished physical closeness. An erotically charged photograph (1997-2016)– with the same title as the exhibition – showing the artist lying face-down on a hotel bed, alone, encapsulates what Emin has referred to as ‘the loss of love and sex, and about how it felt to have that passion…trying to remember, remember that desire and remember what it felt like to be entwined with someone. A lot of my work has become more abstract, more vague, and that’s because the memory is blurry.’ While related works such as the Hotel Grand series of gouaches, the bronze I Wanted You More (which mirrors the pose in the photograph) and the neon texts all address the perplexing inability to recall sexual intimacy, Emin further extends the theme of the exhibition – in works such as I waited and sat by your side and GONE – to reflect an altogether different kind of loss, that of bereavement. In the video entitled You Made Me Feel Like This, the artist draws these strands together and imbues them with a broader significance. Sitting alone in the eighteenth-century interior of a surviving Huguenot house in the shadow of Hawksmoor’s Christ Church in Spitalfields, London, we see the artist writing a poignant letter to a lost love. Juxtaposing images of the First World War memorial in the churchyard with the cranes and girders of contemporary urban development, Emin’s personal heartache now becomes a metaphor for the lives fractured by the conflict, the passage of time and for the loss and eradication – as well as survival and perpetuation – of history and memory within the built environment.

Central within the exhibition is the monumental bronze All I want is you (2016) and a series of smaller works in the same medium. A logical extension of her drawings and paintings, Emin’s bronzes translate the intuitive expressivity of her two-dimensional work into physical sculptural forms. Here, the artist’s emotions and reminiscences gain traction in the delicate energy of the modelling and the luminous textured surfaces. Light and shade not only highlight the indelible traces of the artist’s touch but also her innate understanding of mass and volume, proportion and balance.

Also on display is a selection of paintings and gouaches on paper that are akin to drawings in terms of spontaneity. A consummate and academically-trained draughtswoman, such works can be read as stream of consciousness vignettes that open a window onto an inner world. Of this aspect of her practice she has said: ‘My emotions force the drawing out of my hand… I am the custodian, the curator of the images that live in my mind. Every image has first entered my mind, travelled through my heart, my blood – arriving at the end of my hand. Everything has come through me.’

Tracey Emin (b. 1963, London, UK) has recently exhibited her work in the following solo exhibitions: Surrounded by you, Château La Coste, Aix-En-Provence, France (2017), Angel without You, Miami MoCA, Miami, USA (2014) and a major survey exhibition Love Is What You Want, Hayward Gallery, UK (2011). She has also entered her work into a series of acclaimed dialogues with the work of past masters she admires, most notably: In Focus: Tracey Emin and William Blake, Tate Liverpool, UK (2016), Tracey Emin and Francis Bacon, Tate Britain, UK (2015), Where I Want to Go, with Egon Schiele, The Leopold Museum, Vienna, Austria (2015). Emin also collaborated on a series of jointly-authored works with Louise Bourgeois between 2009 and 2011. This autumn, her installation My Bed, with which was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1999, will be shown at Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK alongside the work of JMW Turner (12 Oct 2017-14 Jan 2018). Tracey Emin represented the UK at the Venice Biennale in 2007 with the exhibition Borrowed Light, was elected to the Royal Academy in the same year. She was appointed Professor of Drawing at The Royal College of Art, London, and in 2012 Queen Elizabeth II appointed her Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her contributions to the visual arts.

Exhibition walkthrough with Tracey Emin

Related exhibition

Selected works

Related artworks

    Tracey Emin

    A moment for you, 2017

    gouache on paper
    23 x 30.6 cm, 9 x 12 in.

    Tracey Emin

    I thought about you deeply more than you know, 2017

    gouache on paper
    22.8 x 30.4 cm, 9 x 12 in.

    Tracey Emin

    I could feel you even in my sleep, 2017

    gouache on paper
    23 x 30.6 cm, 9 x 12 in.

    Tracey Emin

    All I want is you, 2016

    bronze
    231.1 x 230 x 224.1 cm, 91 x 90 1/2 x 88 1/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Mountain, 2016

    acrylic on board
    20.2 x 25.2 x 0.4 cm, 7 7/8 x 9 7/8 x 1/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    I Dreamt of Heaven, 2017

    acrylic on canvas
    152.3 x 213.1 x 3.6 cm, 60 x 83 7/8 x 1 3/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    You Protected Me, 2016

    acrylic on board
    25.5 x 20.1 x 0.4 cm, 10 x 7 7/8 x 1/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    You are there now, 2017

    acrylic on canvas
    122 x 182.9 x 3.3 cm, 48 x 72 x 1 1/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Beautiful You, 2017

    acrylic on canvas
    60 x 80.2 x 2.5 cm, 23 1/2 x 31 1/2 x 1 in.

    Tracey Emin

    You Left, 2016

    acrylic on canvas
    20.3 x 25.3 x 1.8 cm, 8 x 10 x 5/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    The memory of your touch, 2016

    giclee photograph mounted on aluminium plate
    239.7 x 152.4 cm, 94 1/4 x 60 in.

    Tracey Emin

    The Crucifixion, 2017

    acrylic on canvas
    183 x 152.4 x 3.4 cm, 72 x 60 x 1 1/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Dont go, 2016

    acrylic on canvas
    25.2 x 25 x 1.8 cm, 9 7/8 x 9 3/4 x 5/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    In my defence - I thought of only you, 2017

    bronze, white patina
    23.5 x 25 x 16 cm, 9 1/4 x 9 3/4 x 6 1/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Somethings should not be fought, 2017

    acrylic on canvas
    122 x 122 x 3.4 cm, 48 x 48 x 1 1/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    A certain degree of anger, 2016

    acrylic on canvas
    213.1 x 152.4 x 3.4 cm, 83 7/8 x 60 x 1 1/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    I will look for you in every sleeping hour, 2017

    acrylic on canvas
    152.3 x 213.3 x 4.6 cm, 60 x 84 x 1 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    I wanted you more, 2017

    bronze, white patina
    7 x 35.4 x 16 cm, 2 3/4 x 13 7/8 x 6 1/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Where Am I Going to Go, 2017

    acrylic on canvas
    60 x 80 x 2.1 cm, 23 1/2 x 31 3/8 x 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Without tears she went to the end of the world, 2016

    acrylic on canvas
    182.8 x 121.9 x 3.4 cm, 72 x 48 x 1 1/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Flower field, 2017

    neon (flamingo pink)
    346.5 x 328 cm, 136 3/8 x 129 1/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Because you left, 2016

    acrylic on canvas
    25.5 x 30.5 x 1.8 cm, 10 x 12 x 5/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Dont Go, 2017

    acrylic on canvas
    20.3 x 20.3 x 1.7 cm, 8 x 8 x 5/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Mother, 2017

    acrylic on board
    20.2 x 25.2 x 0.4 cm, 7 7/8 x 9 7/8 x 1/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    She Died, 2017

    acrylic on board
    20.2 x 25.3 x 0.4 cm, 7 7/8 x 10 x 1/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    More Solitude, 2016

    acrylic on canvas
    30.5 x 25.5 x 1.8 cm, 12 x 10 x 5/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    The Sleep

    acrylic and pencil on board
    20.3 x 25.3 x 0.4 cm, 8 x 10 x 1/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    The Crying, 2017

    acrylic on canvas
    25.1 x 25.1 x 1.8 cm, 9 3/4 x 9 7/8 x 5/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    The Falling, 2016

    acrylic on canvas
    25.0 x 35 x 2.2 cm, 9 3/4 x 13 3/4 x 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    You Come to Me, 2017

    acrylic on board
    20.2 x 25.5 x 0.4 cm, 7 7/8 x 10 x 1/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    It turned me on dancing with you, 2016

    acrylic on paper
    137 x 101.5 cm, 53 7/8 x 40 in.

    Tracey Emin

    I held your heart, 2017

    bronze and dark silver nitrate finish
    18 x 30 x 22 cm, 7 x 11 3/4 x 8 5/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    From the inside out, 2016

    acrylic on paper
    101.5 x 137 cm, 40 x 53 7/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    My love is safe with you X, 2017

    neon (pink with red kiss)
    227.5 x 187 cm, 89 1/2 x 73 1/2 in.

    Tracey Emin

    You Made Me Feel Like This, 2017

    single channel HD video
    Duration 3:41 min

    Tracey Emin

    The Dream to Dance with You, 2017

    gouache on paper
    14.8 x 10 cm, 5 3/4 x 3 7/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    The evening weight, 2016

    gouache on paper
    14.8 x 10 cm, 5 3/4 x 3 7/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    The duration of birth, 2016

    gouache on paper
    14.8 x 10 cm, 5 3/4 x 3 7/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Russian Doll to dance with you, 2016

    gouache on paper
    14.8 x 10 cm, 5 3/4 x 3 7/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    My child, 2016

    gouache on paper
    14.8 x 10 cm, 5 3/4 x 3 7/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Waiting to dance with you, 2016

    gouache on paper
    14.8 x 10 cm, 5 3/4 x 3 7/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Mothers cradle, 2016

    gouache on paper
    14.8 x 10 cm, 5 3/4 x 3 7/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    The chair, 2016

    gouache on paper
    14.8 x 10 cm, 5 3/4 x 3 7/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    You wanted me, 2016

    gouache on paper
    10 x 14.8 cm, 3 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Scream, 2016

    gouache on paper
    10 x 14.8 cm, 3 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    They Came, 2016

    gouache on paper
    10 x 14.8 cm, 3 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Please dont leave, 2016

    gouache on paper
    10 x 14.8 cm, 3 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    The end, 2016

    gouache on paper
    10 x 14.8 cm, 3 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    I waited and sat by your side, 2016

    gouache on paper
    10 x 14.8 cm, 3 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    GONE -, 2016

    gouache on paper
    10 x 14.8 cm, 3 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    At my vigil for you, 2016

    gouache on paper
    10.5 x 15.5 cm, 4 1/8 x 6 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Automatic Feeling, 2016

    gouache on paper
    10 x 14.8 cm, 3 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    It happened like this, 2016

    gouache on paper
    10 x 14.8 cm, 3 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    God knows I felt it, 2016

    gouache on paper
    10 x 14.8 cm, 3 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Destruction, 2016

    gouache on paper
    10 x 14.8 cm, 3 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    It could have felt like this, 2016

    gouache on paper
    10 x 14.8 cm, 3 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    A Feeling of Time, 2016

    gouache on paper
    10 x 14.8 cm, 3 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    She cried, 2016

    gouache on paper
    10 x 14.8 cm, 3 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    A Place of Sleep, 2016

    gouache on paper
    10 x 14.8 cm, 3 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Time to Go, 2016

    gouache on paper
    10 x 14.8 cm, 3 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.

    Tracey Emin

    We met and we decided, 2017

    gouache on paper
    28 x 38 cm, 11 x 15 in.

    Tracey Emin

    I could NOT hold you anymore, 2017

    gouache on paper
    28 x 38 cm, 11 x 15 in.

    Tracey Emin

    Just a moment, 2017

    gouache and pencil on paper
    37.8 x 56.2 cm, 14 7/8 x 22 1/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    They came to take you, 2017

    gouache on paper
    28 x 38 cm, 11 x 15 in.

    Tracey Emin

    I saw you go -, 2017

    gouache on paper
    28 x 38 cm, 11 x 15 in.

    Tracey Emin

    I imagined you looked beautiful, 2017

    gouache on paper
    37.8 x 56.2 cm, 14 7/8 x 22 1/8 in.

    Tracey Emin

    I thought of you, 2017

    gouache on paper
    28 x 38 cm, 11 x 15 in.

    Tracey Emin

    You ran from the house but we still loved you, 2017

    gouache on paper
    38 x 56.3 cm, 15 x 22 1/8 in.

Installation views