British photographer Miles Aldridge has become famous for his extremely colorful, glamorous photographs. For his new show at Reflex Gallery, he has teamed up with some of the greatest contemporary artists of his time. The (after) series is the result of the combined storytelling of these creative minds.
Londoner Miles Aldridge (1964) is the son of well-known illustrator Alan Aldridge. He inherited his father’s creative genes and initially chose to study graphic design and illustration. After receiving his B.A. in 1987, Aldridge briefly worked as an illustrator but soon took a different path into the world of music videos. During the 1990s, he continued his career as a successful fashion photographer, shooting photographs for magazines like Vogue and The New York Times.
His art could be best described as a body of very saturated, extremely colorful photographs of (mostly) women, set in glamorous surroundings. The influences of his video-directing days are clear, as his photos have a high level of cinematic quality. There is always a certain something about his images that is slightly unsettling, sometimes even surreal. It looks like something is about to happen to the subjects in his work, recalling the atmosphere created by directors such as David Lynch or Federico Fellini.
Combining creative minds
Over the years, his work has gotten noticed by the art world. Aldridge’s work has featured in exhibitions, including his first solo show at the Hamiltons Gallery in London in 2009. Since then he has had shows in many cities, including Berlin, New York, and Amsterdam. His work is part of permanent collections of museums such as the National Portrait Gallery in London and the International Center of Photography in New York. Two of the photographs he recently made for TIME Magazine were even nominated for Best Cover of 2017.
Since 2014, Aldridge has involved himself in special collaborations with other artists. His latest work is a new series titled (after), for which he joined forces with Maurizio Cattelan, Harland Miller and the eccentric duo Gilbert & George. The series shows the art of these renowned contemporary artists, combined with an unmistakable Aldridge signature. The series premiered at Amsterdam’s Unseen Photo Fair last September and it demonstrates the strong relationship Aldridge has with Amsterdam. After traveling to galleries abroad, the (after) series is back in Amsterdam at Reflex Gallery. Amsterdam Magazine asked Miles Aldridge about this remarkable series.
Interview with Miles Alridge
When did you decide to team up with other artists for your new show?
I made a portrait of Gilbert & George in 2014 and we got on very well. So when I proposed doing a series of images with them, they were very open to this idea.
With Maurizio Cattelan, a friend of a friend had spoken to Maurizio on my behalf to convey my appreciation of his magazine Toilet Paper. Maurizio then got back to me through this friend saying how much he liked my work with Vogue Italia, which led to an email conversation between the two of us. We talked about doing a shoot together and then one day he called me to invite me to make a series of photographs at a retrospective exhibition he was having in Paris.
Harland Miller is an old friend of 20 years or more. We knew each other before he was a painter and I was a photographer. Back then we both had different ambitions; I hoped to be a filmmaker and he wanted to be a writer.
Why did you choose these particular artists?
For me, they are the most interesting contemporary artists working today.
Can you tell us something about the communication between you and the other artists?
I worked with all three artists in exactly the same way. I would present my ideas to each of them as a series of drawings which they all approved. I would then meet them on the day of the shoot and they gave me complete freedom to interpret their work as I wished. For all the projects, I presented my final images to the artists and they all approved them without the need for any changes.
How did you choose from their bodies of work?
With Gilbert & George, they were themselves the artwork within the image. For the series with Maurizio Cattelan, he invited me to his exhibition at La Monnaie de Paris where he had a large retrospective of his work. When shooting I could select which artworks would feature in the images from what was on display there. With Harland Miller, he had a sell-out show at the White Cube in London and I selected the works after visiting the show.
The series (after Gilbert & George) has a sort of postcard feeling to it. Can you explain why you chose to experiment with photogravure for this particular series? I was curious to experiment with printing techniques other than traditional photographic prints. I have loved photogravure printing for a long time and wanted to apply my twist on it by using strong pop colors to contrast with the charcoal-like black ink. The British Museum acquired one of these portfolios for their prints collection.
Was it challenging to combine the storytelling of these artists with your own, and how did their works affect yours?
The artists came with their own visual identity in their work, whether it was Gilbert & George themselves or Maurizio Cattelan’s sculpture. I wanted to make images that were recognizably mine. To this end, I used my ideas of storytelling and lighting to create my own universe using their artworks.
Why did you choose Unseen Photo Fair (Amsterdam) to premiere this series?
I have exhibited at Unseen several times before and thought this series would be well received by the Unseen public.
Together with the (after) series, we can admire your other recent work, such as the acclaimed photo shoot of the cast of Game of Thrones. What was your creative idea behind the shoot?
The Game of Thrones project was inspired by the paintings of Lucas Cranach and Albrecht Dürer. But as with all my work when I use a historical reference, I like to add my use of color into the equation; therefore it becomes Pop Art northern renaissance photography.
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