Tuesday 13 May 2014

H R Giger: 1940 - 2014

I used to call him ‘The Nightmare Man’.

I first came into contact with the work of H R Giger the same way, no doubt, everyone else did – through the movie ‘ALIEN’. His work on the creatures and the crashed starship became legendary and the world was exposed to a fully visceral representation of what was inside his head. The space jockey’s starship, so strangely shaped and shrouded in mist, the space jockey itself growing from the chair and the creature, that nightmarish bipedal monstrosity that spent many hours lurking in the shadows of my mind. His designs – not just the work he did on one of my favourite ever movies but the majority of his biomechanical work - had a massive impact on me as a teenager and I found that as much as I appreciated his talent, I couldn’t look at his paintings for very long.

Watching him do interviews, especially on the Alien Quadrilogy DVD boxset extras, was a far cry from how I imagined him to be. His haunted look and dour face was simply an appearance, as he turned out to be a softly spoken and somewhat humorous man fully aware of the images he was creating. I don’t know what I expected, but he always seemed, well… normal. For someone who seemed capable of putting such stark, vicious and disturbing imagery to paper he appeared to be a normal guy. This in no way was what I called ‘The Nightmare Man’. He was more like the ‘Bit Of A Restless Night Man’.

But looks are deceiving. His work truly is the stuff of dark thoughts and repressed nightmares.

H R Giger was recently inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame recently and well deserved it was, too. His contribution to the arts in the form of movies, album covers, portfolios and sculptures is second to none, causing shock and controversy and creating talking points and debate. I could talk about his talent all night, but right now what I’m most excited about is finally seeing the documentary about Jodorowsky’s unmade ‘Dune’ movie, in which we’ll no doubt get to see some more of Giger’s designs. It just goes to show how special his unique talent was – even the work that he did in the 1970s, even the work that didn’t get used, still has resonance and power today.

H R Giger will be missed by the science fiction community and the art world as a whole. He gave us disturbing dreams and nightmares, and we thank him for it.

H R Giger: 1940 - 2014

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