Tracey Emin has just opened her first solo exhibition in greater China, coinciding with the launch of Art Basel in Hong Kong. Her show I Cried Because I Love You is a joint presentation by the competing Lehmann Maupin and White Cube galleries, which Emin explains, “It’s about me being able to not have to define myself with a gallery, within a space, within a country.”

The exhibition explores the “universal” emotion of love, and how her idea of love has changed and evolved with age. I Cried Because I Love You explores a self-reflexive moment in the artist’s life according to the White Cube’s press release, “Addressing the pain of loneliness, the complexity of desire, and the bitterness of separation and loss.”

Clearly having had enough of complications and loneliness, at a press conference yesterday Emin announced that last year in France she married a large ancient stone in a ceremony wearing her father’s white funeral shroud. She told The Art Newspaper: “It just means that at the moment I am not alone; somewhere on a hill facing the sea, there is a very beautiful ancient stone, and it’s not going anywhere. It will be there, waiting for me.”

She told SCMP at a news conference: “I thought the stone is so majestic and beautiful, I really do love the stone, and then I thought about the way I love, how I pour love into things and people, whatever it is, passionately, but not expecting it to be returned either. I just accept that’s the way it is, it’s just me who gives. The stone becomes a metaphor for my feeling.”

A number works in the show either depict or have been influenced by the ceremony with the stone and the idea of a spiritual, rather than a carnal love; others include a number of delicate black and white nudes, some amorously hued nudes, some embroidery and her familiar neon handwriting.

Emin’s market in Asia is expanding. Irene Bradbury of White Cube Hong Kong told France24, “She’s made her mark out here. Collectors become more knowledgeable and attuned to who they like, who they want to follow […] from western galleries, alongside great artists that are developing here.”

The exhibitions are on until 21 May, and it’s been reported that after this show, Emin will be taking a year-long sabbatical, where she will focus solely on her work, and have a well-deserved rest.

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