ROMANCING THE STONE

Stone Love, Tracey Emin's exhibition of new work at Lehmann Maupin gallery, is an artist's love letter to herself -- a romantic journey of self-discovery, unfolding before the viewer.

The exhibition features the innovative range we've come to expect from Emin: her bronzes, works on paper, paintings, embroideries, and neon installations are all on view in the small, low-ceilinged rooms of Lehman Maupin's Chelsea gallery. Despite the wide variety of Emin's mediums, each work in the gallery hums with same emotional energy, the same insistent yearning. The movement articulated in the rapid, hectic brushstrokes of her painted nude is echoed in the roughly molded ridges and grooves of her bronze bodies; all is done quickly, as though the artist were overcome with powerful desire splatter, mold, create, render visible that which she imagines and feels. The powerful emotion of the bronzes and flat-works is articulated in Emin's famous neon text signs, scattered intermittently around the gallery to cast a dim, glowing light upon the works around them. "Just Let Me Love You" pulses with the same hysterical desire as her roughly rendered bronzes, while "It's Different When You Are In Love" seems like a defensive explanation for Emin's single-minded focus upon another body, another love, in her oeuvre. 

Speaking about her own work, Emin comments, "“[It] is about love and the reflection of love; the desire to melt into the image of someone else, the fantasy of love. There are many different kinds of ways of loving, but as humans we are restricted to the purely physical and never have the confidence to leap into other worlds.”

With Stone Love, Emin is utterly un-restrained. Her work is provocative, but tender -- intimate, but universal -- varied, but single-minded. She melts into her work completely, allowing the viewer a glimpse of her most intimate thoughts and desires -- in doing so, she creates a body of work that is perfectly encapsulates the deliriously overwhelming experience of love.

Kelsey Leonard