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Laying With The Olive Trees

Laying With The Olive Trees
Signed Print

Tracey Emin

Lithograph, 2011
Signed Print Edition of 150

Critical Review

British artist Tracey Emin gained notoriety for being confrontational and intensely personal. In this grouping, the artist presents her fearless prose through the means of printmaking, allowing her inner world to unfold within two inky limited edition artworks. The works were created to coincide with her retrospective exhibition “Love is What You Want”, held at the Hayward Gallery in 2011.

The poignant collection features the artist’s own body as a memory well of loss and longing. In these poignant works on paper, Emin charts the bittersweet nature of remembrance. She investigates how it can function as a container of catharsis as well as a source of consolation. While a need for recollection underpins these works, the Love Is What You Want prints primarily address the remnants of physical intimacy.

Laying With The Olive Trees uses the repeated motif of the flourishing olive tree to counteract the stillness of the female figure lying at the centre of the composition. The landscape is an ambivalent mix between a desert and an ocean, placing the solitary female in limbo. Is she thirsting or drowning? The woman appears wounded, her shadows leaking out beyond her contours while the trees, unrooted, float above, guarding her body.