Tuesday, May 13, 2014


(1940 - 2014)

I first became aware of H.R. Giger as a very impressionable young child while flipping through my oldest brother's records during the late 70s. I came across Emerson Lake and Palmer's Brain Salad Surgery LP with the brilliant gatefold split, an iconic melding of Eros and Thanatos. That painting left a huge impression on me, especially the subtle impact of Giger's monochromatic technique. The intimate gray tones immediately struck me and the design made the sleeve an engaging tactile experience. Who knew the whole thing was a cheap euphemism for blow jobs? Some years later as a teen I came across To Mega Therion and those two album covers remain among my childhood favorites. Around that same time in the mid 80s I stumbled into a hippy poster shop on West 8th Street in New York City called Psychedelic Solution and learned more about the man behind those album covers. The hippy behind the counter was selling postcards of Giger's 'Illuminatus I' that really blew my mind and if I had to pinpoint a seminal moment in the evolution of my own heavily shaded style it was that afternoon at Psychedelic Solution. Then I saw Alien (it was released in 1979, but I didn't get around to seeing it until much later in 1986). It suddenly occurred to me that the man was everywhere, and as an early stimulating force in my creative development his influence permeated my brain at an almost subconscious level. That's where his best ideas will burrow and breed, if you let them in. Entire library shelves could be devoted to the theory and technique of his vast legacy, so there's no need for lengthy pontification here. I only wish more contemporary artists were liberated by his style instead of simply aping his biomechanical inventions - after all, this was an important but relatively small aspect of his overarching oeuvre. There is so much more to his body of work to explore (pun intended), such as the perverse surrealist drawings he created during the 60s that look like Hans Bellmer and Francis Bacon on dubious speed and viagra. Incidentally, some of those were hastily scrawled in ballpoint pen! Giger is an artist who has cast such a monolithic shadow over popular culture and the "dark arts" that at this point it's almost easy to take his immense vision for granted. Of course that would be a grave mistake. 

Dennis Dread