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David Ebony's Top 10 New York Gallery Shows for May

Tracey Emin at Lehmann Maupin, through June 18.


Tracey Emin's journey of self discovery continues to unfold in the dynamic new series of paintings, sculptures, embroidered pieces, works on paper, and text wall reliefs in neon featured in this engaging show. The exhibition's title, “Stone Love" pays homage to the late great David Bowie, and was borrowed from the lyric to his song “Soul Love." Most of Emin's works in the exhibition center on an image of a single female nude—a self-portrait loosely based on recent photos that studio assistants have taken of her. In each work, the face is obliterated. “I don't want it to be just about me," Emin told the press at the show's preview. In the work, she aims for a more universal feeling, a sense of being alone, but not exactly of loneliness. She says that after years of struggle, she has finally embraced the fact that she is without a life partner, and has devoted herself to her true passion, which is art.


Having just been honored with a well-received two-person exhibition with Egon Schiele at the Leopold Museum in Vienna last year, Emin is committed to ever more adventurous explorations of the figure. Unlike many other prominent contemporary artists, she prefers a hands-on approach, reveling in the tactile qualities of clay, as she forms the works that would be later cast in bronze, and the fluidity and chance properties of the painting medium. For her, art-making is a profoundly sensuous, life-affirming activity, incorporating a rather lofty ambition to uphold the long and noble tradition of figurative painting and sculpture.