Portrait of H.R. Giger
Digital Pencil Drawing
Freedom begins in the mind. It begins with the permission to observe wherever our thoughts will take us. It begins with the courage to gaze at the darkness within, and not turn away from the ideas and feelings that are lurking there. Fear, guilt, shame, jealousy, hunger, and all manner of desires that are hidden and repressed, fester like some awful array of demons in a hell fire made of mind. They multiply and rot away on the inside, an invisible infection in the psyche, driving otherwise well intentioned men and women to irrational drama, wickedness, and ferocious evil. They thrive wherever we are too afraid to look. They grow powerful whenever we refuse to acknowledge their presence. They move our mouths and manipulate our limbs as if we were their puppets. A mind that is not completely free to think whatever is to be thought, is a mind enslaved by the unthinkable.

Giger was an emissary from the orgiastic cesspools that ferment in the darkest reptilian layers of unconscious thought. His profound impact on our visual world was earned through courageous determination to exquisitely record the depravity of what a mind can imagine. It's not so much what he painted that mattered, it's that he was unafraid to paint it, to think it, to celebrate the freedom of his mind, and to admit to its existence in the world. To reference Jung's well known phrase, Giger made the darkness visible. Through his efforts, consciousness expanded, and we gained skillful means to resist the slavery of our own unexamined thoughts.
Thinking is not doing. Bringing the demons into the light reduces their power as they are no longer able to manipulate from behind a veil of anxious repression. Instead, they are summoned before the king and queen, and must negotiate their wishes and demands, their hurts and grievances, with the rest of the people and feelings assembled in the great hall of humanity. This power to think things through before acting, to imagine outcomes, and choose from possible lines of action, is what distinguishes human from beast. This ability, this sacred power can only fully function in the temple of a free and open mind. Giger was instrumental in retrieving the keys to that temple, and for that, I am ever so grateful.

Making the darkness visible is by no means the end of the journey, but it is an indispensable part of becoming whole.

I've made reference to six different Giger works in this portrait. How many do you recognize?
This Image is Part of a Diptych, “Shadow and Light.”
The companion piece, “portrait of Alex Grey,” is here.
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