“The Magus” was a dedication to his friend Friederich Kuhn who died in 1972. The artwork was completed in 1975 and was made with acrylic on paper on wood. This piece of art is 200×140 which made it huge. Friederich Kuhn was an artist and a dear friend to Giger. The main thing he remembered about his friend is how he played the organ. That was his main inspiration for this piece. He remembered the music that his friend played and transferred what he heard onto the canvas. Giger took a picture of his friend a half a year before Kuhn died and used that to change it into the figure Magus. The man in the long cloth is thought to be Kuhn being drawn to his resting place. The creatures around him seem to be the ones taking him to where the darkness is. Bones and the spine are highlighted in this art with smoke and maggots. The dark colors used in this piece are to show the tones of death and despair; the feelings he had while painting this. The fading background is to give the impression that no one knows where they are or where their going in death. This is that point in time that lives for ever that Schonpenhauer writes about. Maybe the two creatures are wandering around just like Kuhn. This is a very personal painting of Giger.
It is surprising that this is an acrylic painting because it is so soft, smooth, and delicate that it would seem to have been airbrushed or made of oil paint. The hooded man has a very fuzzy and soft look with the light browns and dark greens being mixed. It’s a tall and unsettling figure but still seems to strike fear even though it might feel soft to the touch. The two creatures along side the man are very feminine in structure and have a sharp and dangerous feel to them. The creature in the upper right hand corner has a distinct sway where her shoulders almost seem like they might have dislocated from her neck, but not enough so that it is disturbing. The creature on the lower right hand side has an alien like face and ribs that stick out on all sides even out of its back. These two creatures seem as though they could easily snatch you up and eat you if you dare come near but have such a coy look about them that you’d be tempted to do such. The two creatures also are very shinny with darker tones of brown, green, and some blues. The lower creature has its hand on what looks like a horn and inside it is what looks like maggots. Smoke is billowing out of the horn which might be from the idea of burning to ashes. The light from the horn and from the upper right hand side seems to be used as a devise to keep your eye looking up at the left side then going down to the dark and going back up on the right; like a circle.
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As was stated earlier, Giger is into the occult but he also likes to include other religions into his artwork. Whether it was to upset the Christian community or meant to be a symbolic joke, he created “Satan I”. In this piece Satan is holding the Crucified Jesus in one hand and a string with a host wafer in the other. The Christian Lord’s arms are the frame of a slingshot being aimed at the viewing audience. Could this mean that Satan is behind feeding the Christians their beliefs or is he force feeding the wafer to the audience? Satan has three tails, one of a screaming banshee, one of an upper jawed lizard and another of a skull wearing a top hat. Does this represent the Trinity? There seems to be a fourth face hiding at the curve where the top hat and lizard meet. Is this the presence of Evil still in the world? Beyond all the satirical symbolism of this piece, Giger states that a profound encounter with the shadow (Satan) in the form of soul, temptation, or darkness is a prerequisite for a spiritual opening.
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Dr. Hongbin Li
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Director of Signal Processing and Communication (SPAC) Laboratory
Stevens Institute of Technology