Just back from a cultural weekend in London with friends, swinging past the Tracy Emin show at the Hayward then on to the BP Portrait Competition at the National Portrait Gallery. Four of us went to the Emin but only two survived the experience well enough to continue to the portraits, interestingly the two moderates. The other two hated/loved all of it.
I'd recommend going to both exhibitions, being one of the moderates, as long as you don't mind too many vag**as at the Emin, which was the opinion of three of us. Of course, the Emin cost money to see, whereas the portraits were free and therefore much better attended, and there were wi**ies there instead and a few ni***les. Perhaps that was why. Hard to tell and to be honest the portraits were, to a writer, a bit like a large box of chocolates to a fat person: I had to be dragged away, because the fun thing about portraits is that they don't tell stories, they hint at them and you have to guess the rest.
Perhaps the trouble with the Emin was that it was all one person's story and some of it plainly told. I did love her gigantic blankets/wall-hangings. They were beautiful objects in themselves, skillfully put together, and made me want to get my sewing machine out. (But then I'd have to fix it before I could use it.) These wall-hangings had lots of words. I'm never quite sure about words in visual art. Mixing-medias can confuse and is too like asking the audience to multi-task, which not everyone is good at, if it's not done well. The problem was these words was that some of them were mis-spellt, which upset the sensibilities of my moderate friend (also a writer). But Tracey Emin suffers from dyslexia, which as one who clearly revels in words, like myself, must be a painful affliction. My favourite mis-spelling was PYSCO. Some would say rather hauntingly apt, but I think that's unkind. It made this fierce woman fragile, just like the rest of us.
And in a corner as far as possible from the front door there were some beautiful spirals made of pieces of old wooden panelling with deliciously flaky paint. I could have stood in front of these for hours, photographed them from all angles and papered my room with the results if I'd been allowed.
I love the Hayward, weird space as it is. I saw an Ansel Adams exhibition there a while ago and fell in love with Marc Chagall in its rooms at the exhibition during which he died (I think, correct me if I'm wrong) and by association fell back in love with art because his paintings made me laugh. I didn't know art could be funny.