I just got more elated, more happy, more free: Tracey Emin on how lockdown has been a positive experience for her

A self portrait of Tracey Emin, taken at her London home during isolation © Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin has had a good lockdown. “For me it was a dream not having to go anywhere, not having be anywhere or to see anybody. I just got more elated, more happy, more free and more open,” she declared in a free-ranging conversation with a Zoom audience during a virtual visit to her London studio last week. This interface with Emin was to mark White Cubes online show of the paintings she has made over the past three months. The works offer an intimate view of the artists life behind closed doors—a positive experience that is reflected in the shows title, I Thrive on Solitude.

The outcome of what Emin described as “probably three of the most amazing months of my life” is a series of ten small acrylic paintings on canvas, none measuring more than a foot in height or diameter and all featuring the intimate domestic spaces of Emins home in East London. Sometimes these rooms are empty, sometimes there are spectral figures fluidly painted in a predominantly blue palette, lying on beds, or reflecting Emins penchant for extended time spent prone in the bath: “I spent about eight hours in the bath one Sunday, just topping the bath up—it was amazing”. In one work it is possible to make out the shadowy outline of her recently deceased cat called Docket. In others, the casket that contains her mothers ashes. Emin sees these intimate canvases as a new departure: “these tiny paintings are a little bit Impressionist, a little bit Matisse-y, but Ive never seen anything like them before in my life. During [the Covid-19 pandemic] Ive cracked another code for me and thats exciting.”

Tracey Emin's work station © Tracey Emin

The exhibition also marks a moment of significant change for the 57-year-old Emin, who is about to move out of the 18th century house that has been her home for two decades. She will keep a London base, but in future will spend most of her time between her home town of Margate and her house in the south of France. “I wanted to make paintings of my house, to say goodbye to my house, to honour my home that has protected me for 20 years,” she explained. “Once I move from my house, everywhere I live I will be living with my work—thats now my priority, every single part of my life will be art, art will be my everything, my lover, my salvation, thats what I want as I get older.”

As well as making paintings during lockdown, Emin was also studying and sometimes reassessing the works of other artists. “When I was young, I thought it was Joseph Beuys who was more meaningful and shamanistic—he hangs out with wolves and wears a hat—and Andy Warhol was more just a Pop party boy. But Andy Warhol was a far more serious devout artist and Joseph Beuys is just a fucking pop star—thats what I decided the other day.” Of her erstwhile collaborator Louise Bourgeois, Emin declared that “what I learned from Louise was that you can do what the fuck you like—you can make a giant black penis that goes across this room or a tiny beautiful little etching of a bird, no one tells you what to do as an artist. Louise was hardcore, she took no prisoners.” According to Emin, if Edward Munch, whose drawings in the Musée DOrsay she recently exhibited alongside her own, were alive today “he would probably be making and directing really good artist films.” IN the Zoom call, a collector from Hong Kong asked whether Emin would have liked to be his leading actress. “No, I would haRead More – Source