When I went to London to photograph my friend Jenni’s charity event for Cancer Research, I stopped at Somerset House to see the Miles Aldridge exhibition I Only Want You To Love Me. I’m glad I did. Wow, I’m glad. I mean, really, wow, I’m really, really, super happy that I went. Wow!
Miles Aldridge is obviously a photographer extraordinary, who teases and plays with the viewer of his images. I have never before seen so many bold colours together in one exhibition (but then again, I haven’t been to that many exhibitions), and I admire Aldridge’s handling of the colours.
Take for example Actress #6, with its explosion of strong technicolors, pure primary and secondary colours: Red, green, orange, cyan and yellow. And that’s before we even look at the screaming actress who clearly is upset, although it’s hard to tell whether it’s her grapefruit breakfast she dislikes, or the garish and, frankly, nightmarish, colour scheme of her bed. Wow!
Or what about the cover image for the book accompanying the exhibition named I Only Want You To Love Me #6. At the moment I’m studying the TAOP chapter on colour, and notice that Goethe suggests that yellow and violet will appear harmonious if there is 3 times as much violet as yellow in the image. It’s clear that one thing Aldridge did not intend was for this picture to be harmonious!
Many of the images are covertly erotic, and many more are overtly erotic. No big surprise there; sex sells, always has, always will, and as a world famous fashion photographer Aldridge is a master in giving the audience what they long for. As one of the more explicit examples, take Venus Smile #5. The model’s smile and open mouth is clearly meant to lead the viewer’s thoughts towards sex, but the icing on the cake, so to speak, is the upper right corner. The leading lines of her chin and her arm quickly leads the viewer’s eyes to the soft, furry hair covering a subtle ridge in her shoulder. I may be obsessed (I don’t think so), but this has to be meant to be a vulva. So not only do you, the viewer, get to see her sex, you get to see her moan in ecstasy at the same time.
In contrast to Venus #5, many of Aldridge’s models show absolutely no emotion, despite many of them being depicted in situations that would call for it. Take for example the series A Perfect Mum, where “mum” is seen in various situations with her son playing football. A Barbie Doll has more expression on her face, and I’m particularly intrigued by A Perfect Mum #5 where Mum is applying an elastic plaster to the child, completely void of any emotion in her face.
As well as the purely visual feast for the eyes, the exhibition gave a lot to think about. There are so many contrast – colour, political, gender, fashion/art, composition, light/dark (in more than one sense). I bought the book and despite having been through it several times already, I still find new fascinating details each time I browse it.