Hans Rudolf Giger
Giger. His very name sounds like an alien. One of the greatest talents of the 20th century Hans Rudolf «Rüdi» Giger is the Swiss surrealist, whose design work for «Alien» brought him the Oscar and forever changed science fiction.
Style and themes of art of Giger exist in his own fantastic reality. The artist created images in which combined human bodies and surrealistic mechanisms. He called the style «biomechanical» and many painters have earned to themselves popularity, recreating the worlds of HR Giger. Exclusively talented, better to say the man of extraordinary genius was in life the timid, modest and generous man, ideally coexisting with the Dark Universes. Otherworldly works of art and Xenomorph’s design, consolidated heritage of the artist forever. While many, who peer into Giger’s works, see only nightmares, the keen observer will see superlative beauty.
«Biomechanical» style was born from nightmares which he experienced, and art therapy, taken to combat sleeps disorders. It is fair to assume that this style became the reason of nightmares at others. «People are either thrilled or terrified by Giger’s art," said the Austrian artist Ernst Fuchs.
«No one else knows how to depict the most horrific nightmares so stunningly beautifully." The novelist and the director Clive Barker observed: «Giger seems to be painting aliens, but the closer you look, the more you realize he’s painting twisted versions of us.»
Hans Rudi (Rudolf) Giger was born in a Catholic family in 1940 in the city of Chur, the capital of Graubünden — the largest canton of Switzerland which he called «intolerable» with its high mountains and the bourgeois relations. The family house was his playground and became a place of inspirations from nightmares, especially the corridor conducting to a backyard in which he built «the Ghost train» and frightened by the games of peers. He later wrote in «Necronomicon» about the basement as about a terrible labyrinth where trapped different dangers, perpendicular and treacherous wooden open staircases which conducted down in the yawning abyss. «When I was about five years old, to my father handed a skull. It was something special. I was too small, and to me it was a little terrible. But I was proud of that had a skull. My interest in skulls and bones came early», — Giger remembered.
The father of Hans Rudi was a chemist and considered art as waste of efforts, insistently urging the son to be learned on the pharmacist and to return to a family apothecary who was on the first floor of the house, but Hans Rudy didn’t show any interest in this activity.
He didn’t pass examinations in university and didn’t become the pharmacist. In 1962, he entered the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts at which studied architecture and industrial design. In early student years, Giger with oil paints and ink began to design his emotions on canvas and even the early work showed his unique style.
«New friends instilled new interests. Sergey Golovin, the expert in magic, myths and legends socked me Lovecraft’s book in the late 1960s and presented Necronomicon: The Book of the Dead. He told that the basis for my work can be easily borrowed from Necronomicon. I always admired Lovecraft. Among other influences which had impact on me — ancient Egyptians. When I was about 6 years old, every Sunday I went to the museum in Chur. In the basement there kept beautiful mummy. From it came the smell of old that fascinated me. Later, when I started to draw and use aerograph, the main memory for me was the great inspiration of Egyptian art, in which so much death».
In eighteen years, he worked as the draftsman in architectural bureau Meissen where he opened for himself formal composition, learned symmetry and decorative motifs characteristic of interior styles of the churches.
After the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts he was the designer in Andreas Kristen’s firm. In the same year he met actress Li Tobler, with whom he had a torrid love, difficult and tragic romance until her death by suicide in 1975.
Since 1964 HR Giger creates his first works, mostly drawings and pictures with ink, which resulted in a solo exhibition in 1966. The success and recognition followed after publications and the first posters in 1969 shortly after Giger discovered aerograph and own interpretation of surrealism that allowed creating to him the monochrome canvases depicting otherworldly fantastic visions. His works were collected and published in books Necronomicon and Necronomicon II. The editors of Omni have been fascinated by the works of Giger. They recognized that H. R. Giger combines science fiction and eroticism, following the notion that science and sex are inexplicably linked. The second issue of Omni magazine had the characteristic features of HR Giger’s painting, dedicated to Li Tobler.
On hearsay, Tobler came to the Studio HR Giger knife and cut the painting of a knife in the shape of the letter «X». The editors asked Giger to correct the work of art, and it appeared on the cover of issue 1978. Frequent publication in the magazine of Giger’s works brought him fame, which has grown exponentially.
With Li Tobler Giger met in 1966. She studied acting, and Hans Rudi became her first great love. Couple lived in the forsaken houses of the area Niederdorf for some time. They had no money but were happy. In 1970 Li and Hans Rudy moved to the house in Oerlikon and it was the serious step for almost poor. But the house didn’t like Li. She called it «shitty» and predicted the Giger that he would live in it for 30 years. Her prophecy came true. Giger lived in this house until his death, for 44 years, although he bought two more houses nearby. After Li and Hans Rudy’s relations cracked she was depressed and tried to commit suicide in 1974. The Giger cared about her, looked after during her stay at the clinic, looking for her, when she disappeared for a few days, but he was powerless against her severe depression. In 1975, at the age of 27 years, Li Tobler committed suicide in the house in Oerlikon. She was shot from the gun of Hans Giger. He was terribly shocked and all subsequent period was filled for him with grief and self-flagellation. After the death of his beloved, he created a bronze bust to decorate her grave. In the hallway of the house the polyester version of the bust hangs. Two of the most important and most known works, Li I and Li II, are devoted to the former beloved and a muse. They were created after her first suicidal attempt, some months prior to death.
Details of personal history had essential impact on Giger’s art. Works gain disturbing character, and Giger’s art considers as a catharsis. Actually carefully created images passing through the «Passages» (the end 1960s — 1973) are in bright flowers which the artist used in the therapeutic purposes to be exempted from the nightmares and hallucinations disturbing him. And though gloomy presence was already brought in his art, only with death Li Tobler is marked outgrowth of pervasive and oppressive darkness. Very few people doubt figurativeness force in Giger’s works. If research of mental area really true mission of surrealistic art, at this level Giger talks most convincingly and it is impossible to avoid thirst for this internal dialogue as far as it wouldn’t be shocking or frightening. Giger speaks the metaphorical language of dreams, not the waking mind, but within the boundaries of the hidden mind.
Few doubt the power of imagery in Giger works. If the exploration of the psychic realm is indeed the true mission of surreal art, then at this level Giger speaks most convincingly and it is impossible to avoid the craving for this internal dialogue, no matter how shocking or frightening it is. Giger speaks in the metaphorical language of dreams, not with a waking mind, but within the boundaries of a disguised mind.
Giger art is associated with the monumental themes of life and death, birth and death. “Like Hieronymus Bosch, like Pieter Bruegel, Giger mercilessly shows us the anabolism and catabolism of our realities. In these pictures we see ourselves as creeping embryos, uterine larval creatures protected by the shell of our ego, waiting for the moment of metamorphosis and rebirth. We see our cities, our civilizations like insect hives, anthills filled with crawling creatures - us. Giger gives us the courage to say hello to ourselves, insectoids, ”wrote his friend Timothy Leary, a writer and psychologist, about Giger work.
The first paintings were in oil, but many of the early drawings were in Indian ink, in which the imagery is carefully and methodically defined. Spraying paint with a toothbrush through a fine wire sieve was used to cover large areas using the approximation method. He turned to airbrushing in 1971 and remained largely faithful to this technique. He created about 600 paintings in ink and acrylic paints, some of them more than four meters.Color plays a secondary role in Giger's works, the main emphasis is on the selection and comparison of images. Exceptional drawing and composition skills play a huge role. Since the early 1990s, Giger has devoted himself entirely to 3D work. Later graphic works, lithographs and silk-screen printing followed.
The first encounter with cinema took place in 1969 in Fredy M. Moorer's fantastic short film Swiss Made 2069, for which the artist created a number of structures using the biomechanical method of combining natural and man-made elements. In 1975 he took part in an attempt to bring Frank Herbert's novel Dune to the screen. Under the creative supervision of director Alejandro Jodorowski, a significant number of drawings were prepared by Hans Giger, Chris Foss, Jean Giraud (Moebius), who promised an amazing result for the film, which was already shot by David Lynch in 1984. Giger furniture design for the Harkonnen was not used in Lynch's film. But collaborating with Jodorowski will lead to a short meeting with screenwriter and director Dann O'Bannon, whose tenacity he owes to Alien.
Dan O'Bannon met Giger in Paris when he was trying to film Dune with Alejandro Jodorowski. The two Lovecraft admirers were so impressed with each other that O'Bannon returned home to the States with his head clogged with biomechanical creatures “wriggling in his gray matter” - they were eventually banished from there to the page, incarnating in the image of the Alien. In his essay, Something Perfectly Disgusting, O'Bannon wrote: “I love geniuses and have had the privilege of working with several. One of them is Giger. I met him in Paris and he gave me a book with his art. I studied her intently for a long night in my room on the Left Bank.His fantastic paintings and sculptures shocked me with their originality, and caused deep disturbing thoughts and a deep sense of horror in me. Thanks to them, an idea matured in my head. This guy has to create a movie monster. Nobody has ever seen anything like it on screen.
O'Bannon not only began to write "Alien" specifically for "Giger's Monster", he did his best to persuade the film producers that Giger would personally participate in the production of the film. The producers themselves were not happy with such an offer that some strange artist from Zurich would work in their picture, preferring to invite someone from Hollywood. Hiring an unknown European artist seemed ridiculous to them to say the least. The impatient O'Bannon literally forced Giger's Necronomicon on Ridley Scott. After looking at the book, Scott was amazed and made a condition that he would leave the picture if Giger was not hired. The producers agreed.Ridley explained, "My enthusiasm for the film increased significantly when I realized that we could create a monster that would be better than most that have ever been created." Giger's signature bone and mechanism mesh, combined with decay and sexuality, gives the alien antagonist the unique ingredient needed to distance itself from other fantasy standard designs.
Alien IV, 140 × 140 cm, 1978, acrylics Giger created images for several other sci-fi films, including Poltergeist II, Alien 3, Batman Forever, Species, Prometheus. He turned to sculpture in the mid-1960s. At the time, Giger was working with polyester, later he preferred bronze and aluminum. In the 1990s, he created a fountain of zodiac signs identified as biomechanoid.
I never stopped doing design. Designed furniture for Bar Giger in Kure, for the Giger Museum in Gruyeres, tables, mirrors, lamps and other items, such as a microphone stand for Jonathan Davis (vocalist of Korn). In addition to designs, Giger designed the album covers of musical groups and performers, some of which were awarded several times. And the renowned music magazine Rolling Stone has included Deborah Harry's album covers Koo Koo, Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Brain Salad Surgery in the list of 100 outstanding covers of the century.
In 1998, Giger's first illustrated novel, The Mystery of San Gottardo, was published, combining film script, comics and black comedy. In the same year, the Giger Museum opened in Gruyeres. The museum has preserved the most important paintings and sculptures of the artist since 1960. On the top floor there is Giger's personal collection of fantastic art and a museum-gallery, which displays works by other authors.
Hans Rudi Giger died in a fall from a staircase at his home in Zurich at the age of 74 on May 12, 2014.
“I will never count the friends who will come to my grave. I myself never go to funerals because they make me depressed. I think that everything ends with death. Unlike Carmen (approx. The second wife of the artist), I do not believe in rebirth. The idea that something comes up again or that I want to return to this world is terrible. I don't want to live again. Once is enough. Besides, everything is so terribly exhausting. But even if I die, my art will live. I hope that it will find recognition in future generations. "
Oliver Stone, defining the place of Giger in art and culture, said: “I don't know anyone else who so accurately portrayed the soul of modern mankind. Decades later, when they talk about the twentieth century, they will think about Giger. "
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