Can’t Go On, 1997


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DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 16.00 x 11.50 in. / 40.64 x 29.21 cm
SIGNATURE: Signed and dated ‘Tracey Emin 1997’ and titled ‘Can’t go on’
MEDIUM: Monoprint. Unique.

This striking work by Emin depicts an emaciated female figure with her legs splayed at odd angles. Above this figure the words ‘CAN NOT GO ON ALONE’ are printed whilst an arrow with the words ‘So Wierd’ points to the character’s genitalia. This print has strong allusions to masturbation and with the depiction of a skeletal figure and the words ‘CAN NOT GO ON ALONE’ seems to suggest a longing for a sexual partner. Emin’s work often has references to sex and this work is no exception.

Out Of Stock

Catalogue No: 4358 Category:

Emin’s prints have a diaristic aspect and frequently depict events from the past. As with this print, they frequently incorporate text as well as image. The text appears as the artist’s stream of consciousness voice, like here, at times addressed to another. Her use of seemingly naïve misspellings appear, here misspelling weird, helps to locate the words in the artist’s adolescent past. The rapid, one-off technique involved in making mono block prints is perfectly suited to Emin’s immediate expression, as is her loose drawing style. Messy blotches of ink on the page add to the sense of obsessive ‘free’ expression. It has an immediacy and often sexually provocative attitude that firmly locates her oeuvre within the tradition of feminist discourse. By re-appropriating conventional handicraft techniques – or ‘women’s work’ – for radical intentions, her work resonates with the feminist tenets of the ‘personal as political’.

This work is really unique in that it is a one off rather than from a limited edition series with a great provenance. It was gifted by Tracey Emin to her friend Nancy Dell’Olio. A signed letter from Dell’Olio can be found on the verso of this print. The work was also conceived in the same year as Emin’s acclaimed work ‘Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963 – 1995’.


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