This signed lithograph from 2015 is a limited edition of 500 from Tracey Emin’s Neons series. The lithograph shows Emin’s own handwriting, which reads “but yea”, connected to a sketched and simple rendition of a female torso.
Emin is one of the leading contemporary women artists to have emerged on the art scene in the 1990s. One of the most prominent members of Charles Saatchi’s now-famous Young British Artists group, Emin achieved international success and recognition for her installation My Bed (1999) presented at the Tate Gallery, for which she was nominated for the Turner Prize. My Bed captured the attention of critics and the broader public for its provocative allusion to sexual promiscuity. Since then, Emin’s practice has evolved to include a range of other media, through which the artist gives form to her visual, and oftentimes also written, confessions.
But Yea, produced in 2005, reiterates one of Emin’s preferred motifs - the naked female body. Usually present in her vast production of drawings, as seen in her Nude Drawings and Nude Self-Portraits, But Yea presents for the first time the nude in its neon form. In the artwork, Emin uses the medium to weave together her instantly recognisable, misspelt hand-writing, with the tentative and sketched outline of a female torso. While the misspelt text and its handwritten quality suggest a form of confessional urgency, the simple torso connects this artwork to a long lineage of female nudes, like those of Egon Schiele or Louise Bourgeois, placing this artwork within the trajectory of a long art historical tradition. All the elements in the work point to Emin’s signature hand. If text and image oftentimes converge in Emin’s oeuvre, But Yea brings together all of Emin’s favourite themes in a unique and highly sought-after work, able to fascinate and move the viewer at the same time.