H.R. Giger, the surrealist sculptor, painter, set designer and all around darkly brilliant mind, unfortunately passed away in Zurich, Switzerland on Monday May 12th 2014. His untimely death at the age of 74 was a result of injuries sustained from an accidental fall down the stairs in his home. He was best known for his creation of the Xenomorph from the Alien franchise, making damn well sure that in space, no one can hear you scream.
Hans Ruedi Giger was born in 1940 in Chur, Switzerland and took to the arts early on, gaining influence from artists such as Salvador Dali. He went on to study architecture and industrial design in the early 1960s at the School of Applied arts in Zurich. During his time as an architect, he began associating with a myriad of talented artists and started to create early works in ink and oil paint, where his macabre landscapes and bio-mechanical abominations began to take early root. By the late 1960s his medium of choice went to the airbrush and thus began to take the route of his own freehand painting style with stunning results. His style became one of bio mechanics, sexual beings and creatures, and dystopian landscapes.
Over the following years his fame grew and gained the attention of Ridley Scott from one of his most popular works, The Necronomicon. This book became the inspiration for one of horror/sci-fi’s most visually stunning and well known creatures in movie history. Since 1979 they have been bursting their way through terrified human rib cages, showing that there can be a morbid pseudo sexual beauty in their form and design. Since the release of Alien, Giger’s art remained a constant in the entire Alien franchise, Species films and Poltergeist 2. His Bio-mechanical grotesqueries are comprised over the years in over 20 books collecting his sometimes visually discomforting art. His work has adorned the covers of Metal and Punk bands over the years such as the painting Landscape #XX, which was included as a poster in the Dead Kennedys 1985 album, Frankenchrist. The image caused outrage because of its portrayal of rows of erect phalluses in coitus. Korn’s frontman, Jonathan Davis, has a mic stand commissioned by Giger which he still uses to this day. His works have been seen in many other mediums such as biomech tattooing, and other artists emulating his style in their own works.
In 1988 he was given the opportunity to work his environments into a Giger Bar in Tokyo Japan, a second more realized concept was opened four years later in his birth city of Chur. In 1998, within the medieval walled city of Gruyères, Switzerland, a four floored museum dedicated to his work had opened. Housing the largest collection of any and all of his creations, it included paintings, sculptures, film designs, and some of my favorites..his furniture. Over the past years he has had a series of museum retrospectives in cities such as Paris, Prague, and San Sebastian. “Le monde selon H.R. Giger” or, in English, “The World according to H.R Giger” being the exhibit in France where over 200 of his pieces had been displayed over two floors of the Halle Saint Pierre museum in 2004.
The Paris show case was continued in the Czech Republic at the National Technical Museum of Prague in 2005, followed up by a display of his pieces in Austria. Many of his exhibitions continued to travel through all of Europe and Russia all the way up until 2012. He was rightly inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2013, adding to his list of overwhelming achievements. It has been with a heavy heart that I write this, his visual darkness and morbid creativity being one of the most influential and impacting influences with my own written and drawn creations.
I have learned much from his art style and daring to create things beyond the norm of society, and I thank him for all of the wondrous oddities that have impacted and shaped my love for the aberrant sides of art, as he was nothing short of brilliant. In closing, I leave you with a quote from him which made me laugh because of how much it rang true, with regards to me at least…
“My paintings seem to make the strongest impression on people who are, well, who are crazy,”- H.R. Giger