I left the gallery feeling disturbed, but in an enlightened way because you could tell that all the emotions that were poured out onto the canvases were real. Everything had a meaning; it was not just painted for the sake of painting. The exhibition wasn’t your stereotypical traditional art, portraits of someone or a specific landscape that looks real, her works, which she said, ‘had to be about where it was really coming from’, depicted figures and shapes, which shows that there can be detail in the abstract.
The bronze sculpture called ‘The Mother’ was interesting; The White Cube mentioned ‘The Mother’ as being a ‘celebration of motherhood and the female form’. Personally, it reminded me of what Emin said in her documentary video ‘How It Feels’ which was about her abortion. She said that when she was telling the doctor yes for the abortion, it was like the baby screamed no inside her. There was some sense of connection with this baby and the sculpture, even though the sculpture itself has no facial features to show this connection. I think Emin builds on the fact that there can still be detail in the absence of detail and that is what makes the sculpture interesting. I felt like the sculpture’s lack of features shows how it could be anyone, that it could have been anyone staring at their unborn child, figuring out what decision to make. It displays the theme of abortion as universal. I felt more connection with the sense of motherhood that the sculpture displayed with no facial features then I think I would have if the sculpture had features. If it had facial features, I think I would have identified the sculpture to a certain race, age and sexuality, that may be different from my own – perhaps making it harder for me to connect with it.
Within the documentary video ‘How It Feels’ about her abortion Emin described how ‘everything is mixed up’ and that she can’t hear herself. I think this emotion was also really shown in the painting ‘It was all too much’. There were so many brush strokes going in many directions that may signify her loss of direction of what to do and where to go. I saw myself within this painting, because sometimes you may feel like going in some sort of direction but then lose it because you have no idea at all what to do. The fact that the chaos was happening within the body figure made me feel like not having a sense of direction affected Emin’s mental health and physical wellbeing. The use of black on her face especially around her eyes made me feel like she was blinded or in a dark room, with no light to show the way out. When we get stressed or we are in hectic situations we feel like the world is on our shoulders and we don’t know what to address first and that part of the painting just stood out to me.
“ Everything had a meaning; it was not just painted for the sake of painting.”
Overall, I guess I wasn’t expecting to witness such raw emotions from an artist to a point where it lingered in my mind on my way home. I would definitely recommend this exhibition because it shows that you are not the only person in the world who goes through pain or troubles, or the only person in the world that has a dark past that still haunts you. It allows you to be aware that everyone is going through something, or has been though something.