Categories ArtPosted on

Antonioni’s ‘Blow Up’ at Somerset House 

This summer marked 50 years since the psychedelic ‘Summer of Love’ of 1967. There wasn’t much evidence of a celebration in London however – maybe Highgate is just too far removed from Haight-Ashbury. However, in the neo-classical splendour of Somerset House recently, one Sixties icon attracted a huge crowd outdoors for its own fiftieth anniversary, even as the heavens opened.

As part of its classic Film 4 Summer Screen events, Somerset House staged an outdoor evening screening of the 1966 Antonioni classic, ‘Blow Up’, his first film in English. The tale of a cool photographer (Thomas, played by David Hemmings), bored by Swinging London and witness to a possible murder in a London park, the film looks very contemporary. Perhaps this is what drew the collection of millennial couples – bottle of wine and blankets in hand – as well as the warm-up DJ before the 15 certificate film. They were transfixed as Hemmings ventured from Stockwell Road to Charlton and Peckham, all now achingly cool in 2017.

Characterised by his white jeans and checked shirts, Hemmings takes part in a threesome with two models, enters into intrigue with Vanessa Redgrave (as the suspect/lover) and sexily photographs super-model Verushka (now modelling in Vogue again). Yet, what really holds his attention as he scopes London in his Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, is neither his Notting Hill studio nor Cheyne Walk Chelsea parties, bands and clothes, but his mission to discover if his ‘blown up’ photographs do finally reveal a murder. He photographs a couple in the park then studies his shots to uncover disturbing evidence. Is the scene real? What is his reality anyway? He returns to the park and finds a body.

As the film trailer says, “Sometimes, reality is the strangest fantasy of all.” This is what occupies Hemmings as he tries to convince his agent that he may have evidence of a murder. The agent is detached from reality at a drug-fuelled party. Hemmings feels he is the sole voice of sanity. He declares in one scene, “I am sick of those bitches.”

‘Blow Up’ looks vibrantly fresh – and well, 2017. The photographer’s flat boasts dark slate grey walls, camel print wallpaper, Orla Kiely type ornaments and a minimalist plain grey sofa. Peckham and Charlton’s Maryon Park are as much part of the Swinging London vibe as Chelsea.

With Brexit, the 2017 audience is left wondering whether London will stand up as one of the great world centres – what’s their place in it? Does the glamour of the capital compensate for the sometime spiritual emptiness of an urban sprawl? How much are we really part of what’s going on around us, if we ‘blow up’ our street scenes; how much are we players or onlookers – and does it actually matter?

Today, Antonioni’s film serves as much as a social commentary on London life as a pot-pourri of Instagram type fashion/music scenes of the period. It’s a London which hasn’t actually changed that much and one we’re still shaping. A London which both thrills, scares – and at times, bores us – all blown up.

Seen this week

Categories NewsPosted on

Yee-har! Wild West Cocktail Bar Moonshine Saloon to open

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Categories DesignPosted on

New Wave Clay: Ceramic Design, Art and Architecture by Tom Morris – SEEN Reviews

This lavishly photographed book is very seductive. The ceramics herein are beautiful, strange, monumental, quirky or minimalist but having drawn the reader in, the book asks the pertinent question: are art and craft completely separate in their aesthetic and cultural sensibilities? Why does the word ‘potter’ conjure up thoughts of whimsy and low-cultural activity? Grayson …

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Photography On a Postcard at Photo London

Can there be any more perfect size for an artwork than a postcard? SEEN certainly thinks there’s a perfection to the format. With works from Bruce Gilden, Mark Power, David Hoffman, Dougie Wallace, Maggie Taylor, Karine Laval, Nick Brandt, Alison Jackson, David Titlow and Laura Pannack, there was sure to be something to entice everyone …

Categories MusicPosted on

CABBAGE: ‘POSTMODERNIST CALIGULA’

Lucky Manchester! Soon to be treated to Cabbage, hailed by everyone from The Daily Mirror to Q Magazine… May they appear in London again, soon. “…a muscular sound that weaves funk between menacing riffs, rumbling bass and thunderous drums….Nirvana meets early Happy Mondays” The Sunday Times, Debut Of The Week “Riffs and lurching grooves come …

Categories Food&DrinkPosted on

Veggies and Vegans rejoice: Galvin La Chapelle launches 7-course menu

SEEN is thrilled to hear that popular French Restaurant Galvin La Chapelle has introduced a 7-course Menu Gourmand especially designed for vegetarians and vegans. Jeff and Chris Galvin have noted the importance to cater for diners’ needs, whether dietary requirements or lifestyle choices. “In the past we’ve seen a few dishes on menus that cater …

Categories MusicPosted on

Sound of the Summer: ANGÉLIQUE KIDJO’s “ONCE IN A LIFETIME”

Global pop star and three-time Grammy winner Angélique Kidjo has unveiled the music video for her re-imagined version of Talking Heads’ iconic song “Once In A Lifetime” – from the 1980 landmark album ‘Remain in Light’. Her radical new version of the album will be released June 8 (Kravenworks Records) and Angélique performed “Once In …