British artist Tracey Emin (b. 1963) is known for incorporating all aspects of her personal experience into her art, turning intimate autobiography into broader statements about sex, love, death, freedom, and everyday life.
Her intimate work is explored through using Expressionist elements, similar to Egon Schiele’s art, whom Emin studied over for decades, and has influenced her work heavily (she first encountered him while studying at Maidstone College of Art in 1983-86).
Taken from a series of drawings made in 2006, "The Beginning of Me" is a particularly frank self portrait of the artist. Emin has described herself as being 'slightly embarrassed by its openness, almost like an invitation’.
But this self-consciousness is alleviated by distance she feels from the figure here of a much younger persona, one imagined she says 'from a long time ago, a time when I felt very different. A time when sex was all important and primal’.
Placed in a provocative position, this self-portrait outlines the female figure of Emin’s body. Perceived as relaxed, almost floating as there is nothing on the background to suggest the texture where her body is laying; almost dreamy and surreal.
Emin builds bridges with the history of art, through her practice, depicting the constant subject of the female figure and the importance of the female nude. Further from touching on Egon Schiele as a reference, one can also make connections to Gustave Courbet’s The Origin of the World. In contrast, Emin never experienced or will experience motherhood – a subject she has worked on extensively in her artistic oeuvre, especially through her brave decisions and acts upon abortion, a subject so delicate, as her figurative depiction of this edition.