Please note, there are works in this gallery that are shocking. Over 18’s only
Gary Hume RA, To Be Confirmed. Paint on paper, 232 × 150 cm Photograph © private collection
Tracey Emin, who was invited to select and hang the work in this gallery, admits to having originally wanted ‘to make a room that’s extreme’. But as the room took shape she surprised herself by finding the paintings and sculpture that she chose increasingly subtle and multi-layered.
RA Magazine: Tracey Emin RA on curating Gallery 8
The artists here are all invited, and several are Emin’s friends. There’s just one RA here: Gary Hume. Some are well-known, like Juergen Teller, whose photographs ‘always do it for me. I have to go back and look again and again to see what the hell’s going on’, Emin says; others, like Rachel Kneebone, are unfamiliar. ‘She’s an unknown artist but to my taste entirely.’
The large canvas on the end wall is a portrait by Julian Schnabel, who ‘does my favourite paintings in the whole world’, and Louise Bourgeois, another of Emin’s favourites, is represented by a sculpture, ‘cast, I think, from her old jumpers’. Dominant in the centre of the room is a group of tall, totemic ceramics by Tatiana Echeverri Fernandez, which Emin admits ‘was originally meant simply as a kind of punctuation but is now the star of the whole display’.
The photograph of Damien Hirst with a bloated corpse in a morgue is simply extraordinary. It has documentary significance since, according to Emin, it records ‘the moment when Damien, then seventeen or so, crossed the boundary and his career took off’. The picture is shocking, but there are shocks here of another kind, provided most obviously by Mat Collishaw’s kinetic coupling of a zebra and a woman, and Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s tangled assembly of pink hands and erect male members, which somehow provides the profile for a silhouette of two heads when projected onto the wall. But not all the shocks are sexual.