Tracey Emin thinks that she has been “overlooked” as an artist and that her work has been misunderstood.
With her appliquéd tent, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995, the 58-year-old rose to fame and infamy in the 1990s, and has been in the limelight ever since. People, she claims, haven’t grasped the “seriousness” of her work.
Instead, she was labeled a “narcissistic, deranged, screaming banshee,” she told BBC Radio 4’s This Cultural Life.
Her latest shows include a neon sign that says “I want my time with you” in London’s St Pancras station, and her paintings, neons, and sculpture were shown alongside Edvard Munch’s at the Royal Academy last year.
“No, I think I’ve been overlooked,” she answered when asked whether her picture had been overlooked. I believe they mistook me for a narcissistic, disturbed, screeching banshee.”
Emin stated in the interview, which will air on Saturday night, that being an artist is “really lonely.”
She said, “You can’t be an artist hanging out at a huge party; it’ll never work.”
“There’s a part of you that has to go deep inside, or as I like to say,’inside the cave,’ and if you don’t go inside the cave, you’ll never make any art. To be able to produce art, you must be able to stand and see yourself.”
She was diagnosed with bladder cancer last year, but she declared in April that it was gone following a series of procedures.
She credits medical science – and love – for saving her life, claiming that she fell in love immediately before receiving her cancer diagnosis.
She described her surgeon as “beautiful.” “All of my surgery was done by a robot, which is incredible.” But I believe that love saved my life. This time, I believe it was love, not art, that rescued me. Just before I discovered out I had cancer, I fell in love.”
Emin also spoke about how she met David Bowie by coincidence at a Lebanese restaurant in Kensington in 1996 and became friends with him.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, my name is David, and I just want to say how much I admire your work,” someone remarked from across the table. “And I looked up and saw David Bowie staring at me, so I said, ‘Likewise,'” she said.
“As a result, we became friends. It was incredible that I made friends with the one person I’d ever been a huge admirer of.”