Monday 17 July 2017

'Seul avec la Nuit' - HR Giger in Nantes

Never one to miss the chance for a Giger pilgrimage, I was thrilled when the opportunity arose to visit the Giger exhibition in Nantes; 'Seul avec la Nuit'. It was a rare chance to combine two of my favourite things; Giger and France, so I grasped the opportunity with both hands ...

The exhibition is housed in the former LU biscuit factory (which as I discovered was a great source of pride in Nantes and an important part of the city's heritage). Originally the factory was built in 1885, and was a landmark of industry and French produce. Now the building stands as a testament to that history, in its new guise as the National Centre for Contemporary Arts; 'Le Lieu Unique'. The exterior of the building is grand, with a lofty tower beautifully painted and elegantly faded. The new additions to the LU relic; huge doors and windows have a distinctly modern, industrial appearance, with surrounding plaster left rough and raw around the new additions and huge neon signs guiding visitors like moths to a flame.

Inside the exhibition a wealth of strange otherworldly noises and Swiss German tones can be heard filtering through the huge hangar-like space. First you are greeting by a number of early ink pieces, sculptures such as 'Birth Machine Baby' and 'Kofferbaby' and the ever epic dining furniture designed by Giger, which is the thing lottery win dreams are made of. As you travel around the central cube, which houses artworks both inside and out, you instantly get an insight into Giger's mental creative process, and the different phases and subjects of his work.

The exhibition has a great range of Giger works on offer, from polished sculptures and mammoth masterpieces to conceptual scribblings and early inks. Giger's career is covered thoroughly by the pieces on show, and for those requiring a little more annotation, videos are projected onto the wall featuring biographies, interviews, Gige'rs own behind the scenes footage from 'Alien' and a wealth of photos of the late great master.

The layout of the exhibition itself was an interesting concept, with a huge pentagram spanning the floor of the central cube. This shrine-like setup certainly made me worship at the altar of art. Sitting within the centre of it all is Giger's design for Alien 3 come to life. The colossal sculpture perfectly captures the mixture of elegance, erotica and horror that Giger wished to create in his new improved creature and certainly seemed to be a popular focal point with passers by.

It was nice to see plenty of pieces on display which were not part of the Hamburg exhibition, and are not at Gruyeres. Every Giger pilgrimage for me is tinged with a sense of excitement and anticipation regarding which works will be on show and which I will be seeing in the flesh for the first time. My particular favourite first time viewings were some 'New York City' series pieces, 'Homage a Böcklin' and 'Satan II'.

There are many of Giger's finest biomechanical marvels available for your viewing pleasure at the exhibition until 27th of August 2017.If you have the opportunity to visit the beautiful city of Nantes and soak up some superior Swiss creations, don't pass up a visit to 'Seul avec la Nuit'.

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