Monday, 15 September 2014

HR Giger Museum: An Artistic Pilgrimage

For the past eight years I have been planning an artistic pilgrimage to the museum of my favourite artist, Hans Ruedi Giger. Giger has been an inspiration and hero to me virtually my entire life, and since the age of 16 I have been desperate to visit Château St. Germain in Gruyères, which houses some of Giger's most prolific pieces of artwork and sculpture.
After so many years of waiting, hoping and planning, the fact that the moment had arrived at last seemed utterly unbelievable.

We arrived in Gruyères early evening, after a long, tiresome drive from Southern France.
We were greeted by a tiny picturesque town, perched atop a rocky hill. Its cobbled streets and ancient buildings looked as though they were straight out of a movie set, and with little noise other than the gurgling of the public water troughs and the faint clinking of cow bells, the slower pace here was welcome after suffering the manic bustle of the Swiss Motorways.

On first exploration of the town we stumbled upon the Giger Museum and Bar almost immediately,
as sculptures reared their heads suddenly through a large arch, we were there. I had made it. At last.
We enjoyed some much needed refreshment, in the form of a few beers in the Giger bar, as I marveled at the staggering reality and magnificence of the place, desperate to study every tiny detail, and attempting to absorb the fact that I was really in
Gruyères.

The next morning after a breakfast consisting of mostly cheese and salami, it was up to the Museum to wait for the doors to open.
With early pieces lining the staircase from reception to main museum, and another 'Baby Wall' similar to that on display in the bar, the museum eased you in gently, allowing excitement at what awaited to build. Once inside there was such a wealth of things to see it would have been easy to feel overwhelmed. Entire rooms dedicated to Giger's work on movies such as Alien and Species had everything from original sketches and conceptual ideas, to vast pieces of artwork, as well as film props, models, sculptures ... even a room to sit and watch the entire Alien film, surrounded by artwork.

The museum leads you through a labyrinth of rooms, mostly themed by subject matter or a particular series of paintings. The scale of some of the pieces is incomprehensible when viewing them in a book, in particular the 'Spell' series. These were in their own room and covered entire walls floor to ceiling they are so vast. 'The Spell IV' in particular was utterly breath-taking and left me speechless. I cant even begin to guess how long I stood staring at the piece and every minute detail. Giger's use of layers and depth is truly fascinating and unlike anything Ive ever seen before, something which can only truly be appreciated in the flesh.
As well as a wealth of Giger originals, the museum also houses Giger's personal art collection, which was an interesting insight into the art that Giger enjoyed and was inspired by. Many pieces are familiar from the books 'www HR Giger com', and the Taschen Icons book 'HR Giger', with some wonderful Ernst Fuchs pieces on display.

Artwork from every phase in Giger's life can be seen within the museum from early pen and ink works and oil paintings, to air brush works growing in complexity, sculptures, jewelry and furniture. For any Giger fan, or lover of surrealist art, the museum is a haven, where beauty and the beast are one and the same. The unabashed, unapologetic presentation of the grotesque, horrific, bizarre and erotic is refreshingly honest, I adored it. The museum was everything I ever dreamed it would be, and more. I certainly wont be waiting another eight years before I return to the incredible, beautiful museum of my hero, Hans Ruedi Giger.










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