Tracey Emin: Love Is What You Want

"People like you should fuck people like me," reads one her famous neon sign installations.  "Good smile, Great come," reads another.  Tracey Emin, a celebrated contemporary English artist, who has a retrospective of sorts opening today in London, is labeled a "wild child" of the art world with no chance of taming.  Her neon scribbles are honest and personal, and speak of the post modern human condition on a profound level.  Emin has had her fair share of hard knocks–growing up poor, raped at 13, and an abortion of twins at 18–so now, with her trademark lopsided smile and sexy glint in her eyes, she's appropriately getting back at this fucked up mess we call a world–in a beautiful way.

Emin's rise to prominence culminated with a special exhibit at the Tate Gallery in 1999, in which she presented her unmade bed in the museum exactly as it was in her home–after spending countless suicidal days in it following a fight in relationship.  Yellowed sheets, cigarette butts, stained underwear, and condoms strewn about the bed was a shocking, visceral site to behold–a strange reminder of the fragile, intricacies of the human psyche.  A famous photograph, a self-portrait of the artist herself, from a gallery show I've Got it All Now (2000) - displays Emin clutching bank notes and coins into her crotch - an analytical critique for man's unquenchable desire for money.

"Oh Christ, I Just Wanted You to Fuck Me, And Then I Became Greedy, I Wanted You To Love Me."  from a Tracey Emin Installation

The exhibition, Tracey Emin: Love Is What You Want, opens today at the Hayward Gallery at the Southbank Centre in london and features painting, drawing, photography, textiles, video and sculpture, in works that are "by turns tough, romantic, desperate, angry, funny and full of longing." Seldom-seen early works and recent large-scale installations are shown together with a new series of outdoor sculptures created especially for the Hayward Gallery.

On view at the Hayward Gallery May 18 to August 29, 2011 - find tickets here.