‘I wish we could just float around. I wish we didn’t have to carry it [the body]; it’s a lot of ‘weight’…’ (T. Emin, quoted in A. Hill et al. (eds), Tracey Emin Borrowed Light, exh. cat., British Pavilion 52nd Venice Biennale, 2007. p. 66).
Lyrically fusing together art and autobiography with Tracey Emin’s signature visual rhetoric, Meet Me in Heaven, 2004, presents the viewer with the multi-layered image of a setting sun against the horizon of a deep blue sea and dusky pink sky. Exploring the romantic subject matter of the setting sun with her signature deadpan humour, Emin wittingly overlays the picturesque idyll with delicate swaths of thin white paint; whilst at first glance resembling the silhouette of a flying bird, it in fact reveals itself to be a female figure’s legs spread-eagle – the signature motif in Emin’s oeuvre. Floating above the deep blue sea, the semi-abstract figure perfectly captures Emin’s desire, ‘I wish we could just float around. I wish we didn’t have to carry it [the body]; it’s a lot of ‘weight’…’ (T. Emin, quoted in A. Hill et al. (eds), Tracey Emin Borrowed Light, exh. cat., British Pavilion 52nd Venice Biennale, 2007. p. 66). Like many of Emin’s paintings, Meet Me in Heaven takes its cue from a rich source of art-historical and autobiographical allusions. Indeed, Emin’s colour bands bleed across the picture plane in a manner that is reminiscent of the sublime colour-field expanses of Abstract Expressionism, while the free-flowing application of paint and linear elegance of her graphic brushstroke recalls the work of Cy Twombly, an artist whom Emin greatly admires. At the same time, the planar division of colour and textual fragments specifically mimic the format and aesthetic of Emin’s appliquéd blanket works that first propelled her to international acclaim. As in her blanket works, weaves a textual narrative through the work; thinly written phrases such as ‘being alone’ are rendered illegible by the emblazoned poignant notation ‘meet me in heaven’, a reoccurring textual fragment that can be found in Emin’s blanket works and neons. Filled with latent psychological tension, sense of deep loneliness and a deeply personal vernacular, Meet Me in Heaven as such eloquently captures the mixture of pathos, vulnerability, intimacy and frankness that Emin’s complex oeuvre is so acclaimed for.