In her formative years as an artist, Emin was drawn to the expressionism of paintings by both Edvard Munch and Egon Schiele, their concerns in exploring the complex human condition and tortured psyche echoing many of her own burgeoning tendencies. In particular, Munch’s confrontation and exploration of emotions in his work had an enduring appeal to Emin, who saw him as ‘a friend in art’, and as early as 1982 was directly referencing the artist in her work.
The Loneliness of the Soul focuses on themes of grief, loss and longing. Emin has focused on a group of Munch’s works which explore his complex relationship with the female sex. Early tragic events including the death of his mother when he was only five years old, followed a few years later by his beloved sister, and then a series of doomed love affairs, all contributed to this uneasy connection. The works on display highlight his fascination with the depiction of women, their emotional states and the process of aging.