As an art of revelation, the painting is a reflection of Tracey Emin’s personal experiences, described through an expressive, visceral stroke. The canvas becomes the narrative of her emotional states through which the artist can confront vulnerability and find the hope that enables her to cope with adversity. You Should Have Saved Me is a representation of recent personal struggles that Tracey fights with herself, and of triumphs achieved by making peace with her own body: it is a true exploration of feelings and of the way to face the obstacles that surprise us during the course of life. Her work is extremely intimate, but at the same time universal because it draws on fundamental themes that touch each of us, including that of love, desire, loss and salvation, revealing a hidden and deep side of herself.
The stark reality she depicts manages to intimidate the viewer, who almost feels a sense of pain in trying to understand the artist: “The most beautiful thing is honesty, even if it is very painful to look at.” The works exhibited at the Lorcan O’Neill Gallery in Rome appear as autobiographical and confessional pieces of art, like fuzzy thoughts that come alive when they touch the surface of the canvas, like a pure and sincere way of venting. After overcoming a long illness, Tracey Emin begins to be happy and to appreciate life, looking at the world with different, joy-filled eyes. You Should Have Saved Me marks an important moment as a symbol of her rebirth, inner and outer: she feels ready to face a new phase of her own, exploring a part of herself still unknown, and all this only thanks to the saving power of art.
The new exhibition in Rome offers to its visitors a window into the artist’s recent personal struggles and triumphs.
The works are the image of an intense dialogue with the depths of her soul that stems directly from the wounds caused by the internal war she had to face, including within them effort, courage and violence. Emin sheds her pains and acquaints us with her narrative that foregrounds the body as battle: the gestural and expressive lines are the meeting of episodes of euphoria alternating with others of pain, in which moments of sexual intimacy are glimpsed. In the chaotic order of her canvases, the presence of nude figures is outlined, expressing an emotional tumult, a need to release new emotions, while the dripping color seems to be a representation of something that is slowly leaving, perhaps like the artist’s own unhappiness. Tracey Emin allows us to enter her world by embracing her sincerity and pure character, sharing, with us who observe, the most intimate aspects of her life and how she deals with them.
The decisive line across the painting has the appearance of a strong emotion that strikes the audience’s soul, allowing them to fully understand the pains and joys the artist feels. When your life seems to be lost, answering the question “how are you?” is no longer so banal: art for Tracey has been the way to survive and emerge unscathed from this painful period that determined the last years of her experience. She invites the audience to confront their vulnerabilities, learning to listen to their body’s needs in order to use it against adversity. You Should Have Saved Me is a rebirth, it is a collection of mixed feelings that have brought the artist back to daydreaming and appreciating life.
“When you get through the other side you really appreciate life. You see the whole world differently, and it’s a kind of gift. It sounds corny but it is like being born again, really.”