Tracey Emin says her art has been ‘overlooked’ in the last 20 years

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Tracey Emin says the artwork she has created over the last 20 years has been “overlooked”.

The artist, known for her headline-grabbing 90s works Everyone I Have Ever Slept With and My Bed, told BBC Radio 4’s This Cultural Life that people have not understood the “seriousness” of her work.

Asked whether her painting had been overlooked, she said: “No, I think I’ve been overlooked. I think they just thought I was some sort of narcissistic, deranged, screaming banshee.”

Bloomberg and Vanity Fair Gala Dinner – London
Tracey Emin (Ian West/PA)

Recent works by Emin include a 2018 neon sign in London’s St Pancras station saying “I want my time with you”, and a 2020 Royal Academy exhibition which showcased her paintings alongside the work of Edvard Munch.

Emin added that being an artist is “really lonely”.

“You cannot be an artist hanging out at a giant party, it’s never going to work,” she said.

“There’s a part of you that has to go deep inside, like I say, ‘inside the cave’, and if you don’t go inside the cave, you’re never going to make any art.

“You need to be able to stand and see yourself to be able to make the art.”

Emin revealed last year she had been diagnosed with cancer.

Discussing her recovery, she said her life was saved by medical science, adding: “My surgeon was lovely.

“A robot actually did all my surgery, which is quite incredible. But I think love saved me.

“I really think love saved me this time, not art. I fell in love just before I found out I had cancer.”

Emin also discussed a chance encounter she had with the late musician David Bowie.

David Bowie
David Bowie (PA)

“I was sitting in a Lebanese restaurant in Kensington in 1996 with a couple of other people and someone leaned over the table and said, ‘I’m very sorry to interrupt, my name’s David and I just want to say how much I love your work’.

“And I looked up and David Bowie’s looking at me, and I said ‘likewise’.

“And we become friends. It was just amazing that the only person I was ever a massive starstruck fan of, I became friends with.”

This Cultural Life airs on Saturday on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds at 7.15pm.

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