‘Bad girl’ artist Tracey Emin to show her pensive side in first Hong Kong show

British artist famous for her unmade bed to swap the saccharine for sensitivity in first solo show in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 November, 2015, 11:31am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 November, 2015, 7:55pm

Tracey Emin, the “bad girl” of Britain’s art world who made a name for herself by airing her dirty laundry in public – sometimes quite literally – will stage a solo exhibition in Hong Kong next March.

The exhibition, called “I Cried Because I Love You”, will be held concurrently at two separate commercial galleries in Central: White Cube and Lehmann Maupin, and will be the artist’s inaugural solo show in China.

Emin has been to Hong Kong before. In 2014, she hung a heart-shaped neon sign with the message “my heart is with you always” on the front of The Peninsula hotel. It might have given local art lovers the impression that this former wild child who made Everyone I have Ever Slept With 1963-95 and My Bed, the 1998 display of detritus from her personal life – dirty sheets, underwear stained with menstrual blood, used condoms, cigarette butts and empty alcohol bottles – had lost her zing.

This time, the few preview images released to the press suggest that we will see Emin being pensive rather than saccharine, reflecting on the past quietly.

There are traditional sketches of the female nude that may be self-portraits, and an embroidered work where she has used needle and thread like a paint brush. She will also be bringing works made with neon lights and bronze, the galleries say.

In interviews, Emin has confessed that age has mellowed her, that she is no longer the young woman who would swear, drunkenly, on live television and make artworks that were brutal, that constantly screamed for attention.

Today, the 52-year-old is one of Britain’s wealthiest and most respected artists: My Bed was sold in 2014 for £2.2 million.

The Royal College of Art graduate is now the Royal Academy’s professor of drawing, its second female professor since its founding in the 18th century. In 2013, she was made Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth.

Despite the trappings that come with being a pillar of the art establishment, organisers of the Hong Kong show promise that she will be bringing art that is quintessentially Emin: where the personal is the powerful.

She also joins the ranks of other well-known British artists and designers who have come to promote their work in Hong Kong, now one of the world’s largest art markets.

This month, British sculptor Antony Gormley’s Event Horizon was installed on Hong Kong rooftops and British designer Thomas Heatherwick had a retrospective at PMQ in Central.