No. 217 from Brain Salad Surgery, © HR Giger, 1973. Cover for the album by Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

The art world has become safer, less dangerous and less disturbing than it ought to be today. The giant in the night, H.R. Giger, has died, it is being reported.

Hans Ruedi Giger gave us machines moving like flesh. His airbrush compositions are strongly considered to be descendants of Dalí though I have always felt the unease, the dark mirror of the 1890 Symbolists behind his work. If you cracked open the biomechanoid shell, I always assumed the devastating mythologies of Khnopff, Böcklin and Delville would come pouring out. His paintings were the work of sperm, bullet casings, grotty stone and soft cheekbones. It was not made to be beautiful, it was made to unsettle.

Hommage à Böcklin, © H. R. Giger, 1977. This painting done in Giger's signature biomechanoid style is an homage to Symbolist painter Arnold Böcklin's Isle of the Dead, a painting with many versions from the 1880's.

H.R. Giger was a giant of the 20th Century, I am sure fine art history and illustration books and blogs will record through history. From Fine Art to Concept Art: paintings, movies and even inspiration for video games. H.R. Giger was the bridge from fine art galleries to the interactive age. He saw what we could become and shook us with it.

For those who want to learn more about him, I highly recommend HR Giger ARh+ published by Taschen: much of it is in the artist's own words. In his biography I discovered we had a shared childhood nightmare, about an endless shaft of thin stairs leading down in the dark. That nightmare felt like a link to Giger, and from him I became more interested in the Symbolists, studying them in university.

Giger's work unsettled me as a painter and drove me like it did so many others. Are you another painter who paints, in some small way, because of Giger? Share your stories and links to your art in the comments below. Perhaps we will follow-up with a post of art inspired by Giger here on Symbiartic.

Giger is dead. His shadow remains cast over our future. The shadow moves.

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Condolences to his friends and to his wife, Carmen , Director of the HR Giger Museum.