Miles Aldridge: I Only Want You to Love Me at London's Somerset House

By Kirstie Brewer | 15 July 2013

Exhibition review: Miles Aldridge: I Only Want You to Love Me, Somerset House, London, until September 29 2013

A photo of a woman in yellow sitting on a multicoloured floor next to smashed plates
I Only Want You To Love Me #1© Miles Aldridge 2011
Miles Aldridge’s love of women is complicated. In his high-glamour photos women are subhuman and superhuman at the same time. He creates a sort of cyborg mystique – a psychedelic Stepford Wives.

They exist in a world where colour is ruthlessly stripped down to something bold and saturating –  place where, as art writer and fashionista Glen O’Brien puts it, Pop Art has an apocalypse of its own.

Arrestingly beautiful, the women who adorn the pages of Vogue - and now the walls of Somerset House - look indifferent, vacant even.

Except they aren’t these things at all. They are pensive, fragile, anxious, and we are invited to consider their inner lives. Aldridge delivers a lavish onslaught of unease: they worry about why their daughters hate them, they agonise over whether they’ll be loved by their men in the morning.

They have all the decadence and ultra-luxury they could ever want bestowed upon them – but they are drowning in its vapidity. And while the conventional indicators of love are often present, the feeling evades them somehow.

“To me, the great moments in Hollywood are close-ups of a woman’s face, thinking, and she’s just realised that her whole world is wrong,” Aldridge once said.

London-born, his work often starts with meticulous storyboard drawings, some of which are displayed in the exhibition.

The final image lies somewhere between cinema and photography. It is plain to see that Hitchcock and David Lynch are two of his greatest inspirations.

His work exudes the same dreamlike beauty, shot through with horror and foreboding.  While decidedly post-modern, it is infused with Pop imagery of the 1960S and his technicolour palette also draws parallels with 1950s Hollywood musicals such as The Wizard of Oz.

The exhibition, Aldridge’s largest to date, aptly culminates in a trio of images from his Immaculée series, featuring a rapturous Madonna.

Housed in a darkened, almost church-like enclave, they are divine in every sense of the word and make you wonder what place spirituality and the soul has in the world these women inhabit – and our own.

More pictures:

A multi-coloured photo of a glamorous, film star-style woman screaming in bed
Actress #6© Miles Aldridge 2012
A photo of a woman in a colourful floral shirt and yellow eye shadow lying on a bed
The Ecstasy #2© Miles Aldridge 2002
A photo of a glamour-model style female face
The Pure Wonder© Miles Aldridge 2005
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