Saturday, 2 February 2008

HR Giger in Paris - September 2004

Three months had not passed by since my return home from Gruyeres when I was already making plans for travelling to Paris.
My visit to HR Giger Museum had rewarded me with more than I expected.
From the days I enjoyed in Gruyeres and the hours that I spent inside the Museum, my initial quest for Giger Art was complete.
However, from the days that passed during the weeks at home after this, I discovered that tasting the flavour of what it is to gaze upon and lose myself within the intricacies of Giger's Original Paintings, had now left me with a hunger that was in need of satisfying, once again.
Fortunately for me, this was at a time when two Exhibitions of Giger's Work were about to be held, opening within days of each other, in Paris.
The information publicising these two events that I found on pages of indicated to me that I was now facing the dilemma of how to time my arrival in Paris.
If I had then, the extent of knowledge regarding the opening nights of Giger's Exhibitions that I have now, then whether I would have planned things differently, I would have to say that I doubt.
I am a person who is lost in the crowd, finding myself only when I am in the company of a few.
As it was, I planned my trip to Paris so that I arrived shortly after the opening of the Exhibition at Halle Saint-Pierre, but shortly before the opening of the Exhibition at Galerie Arludik.
This, as I discovered to my delight while in Paris, was most certainly to my advantage.

For this Trip, my first to Paris, I was not so willing to rely on the fortune that I had in finding my accommodation while in Gruyeres.
A first meeting and conversations with Ingrid Lehner, Co-Director of HR Giger Museum, regarding the new Digital Lithographs of Giger's Alien, added toward giving me the confidence to compile an email of enquiry to Halle Saint-Pierre.

It was with very pleasant surprise that I received a courteous and helpful reply from Martine Lusardy, Director of Halle Saint-Pierre, informing me of a Hotel possibility situated in the neighbouring area of Montmartre.
Unfortunately, on contacting the Hotel, I was informed that this was fully booked.

I soon found, for myself, alternative Hotel accommodation and finalized my plans of travel to the City of Light.
I landed at Charles de Gaul Airport, caught a train to Gare de Nord and followed a street map within a Lonely Planet book of Paris to my Hotel, all with enough time remaining to locate on foot Halle Saint-Pierre, just before closing time.
This allowed me to introduce myself, and give thanks to Martine Lusardy, before returning to Halle Saint-Pierre the next day with the intention of losing myself, once again, within the abyssal depths of Giger Art.

The Exhibition at Halle Saint-Pierre was held under the title of “Le Monde Selon HR Giger”, The World According to HR Giger, and featured over two hundred Works of Art from the ultimately creative palette of this truly unique Artist.
Such a pleasure for me, to enjoy the freedom of being the tourist within this Exhibition and to experience again, just as when inside HR Giger Museum in Gruyeres, the all consuming affect that is evoked when surrounded by the purity of Giger Art.

After emerging from one of my tours of this Exhibition and engaging in further conversations with Martine Lusardy, I was given written directions of how to find my way to Galerie Arludik.
So as to be able to arrive at this private gallery within plenty of time before opening of the Exhibition, titled “Biomechanoides Paris 2004”, I set off to discover this location in the daylight of September 21st.
I navigated my way to Ile de la Cite using the Paris Metro system and followed the directions I had been given to find Rue Saint-Louis en L'lle, situated on Ile Saint Louis, with the ineptitude of a singularly lingual Briton.
Never the less, I reached my destination.

On arrival at Galerie Arludik, I found that preparations for the evening's opening of the Exhibition were being finalized.
I introduced myself to Diane Valembois, and was made to feel very welcome.
My sense of purpose and feelings of empathy were increased during this visit to Arludik as we sat and chatted while enjoying strong French coffee.
Time passed quickly on this day and the arrival of three o'clock in the afternoon coincided with the arrival of a chauffeur driven black Audi.
From this car, and into Galerie Arludik, stepped the man Himself.
For once in my life, I was in the right place at the right time.
Diane Valembois introduced me to HR Giger as a fan, with some emphasis on this word, and as a visitor from England.
Despite having spent forty one years developing my communication skills, I found that I had now lost all ability of speech, excepting of course to be able to pronounce the word “Hello”.
Looking back, I think that our exchange of smiles had spoken for itself and, in this, had said enough.
I had become, on this fine afternoon in Paris, a very contented and exhilarated man.
I had just met, HR Giger !

There were now some hours to pass until the Opening Event at Arludik, during which time I attempted to grasp the reality of that afternoon's experience while preparing myself for the evening to come.
I had returned to my Hotel for a period of this time, filled with a sense of purpose to my visit to Paris and with full intention of accepting the invitation given, to return to Galerie Arludik that evening.

It was now just a matter of retracing my footsteps of that afternoon and walking from Cite Metro Station, toward Notre Dame and following a path that runs between this landmark and the River Sienne, across a bridge at the rear of Notre Dame on to Ile Saint Louis and back down the narrow street that is Rue Saint Louis en L'lle toward Galerie Arludik.

The hosts of this evening's Event were already in presence and large glasses of punch were being served to all those who arrived.
Before I took the opportunity of speaking with anyone else, there now stood before me another man that I recognized from photographs within pages of Giger's publications, and whom I followed my instincts to approach.

If ever there was a beginning to my involvement in what I now write about, then I would have to tell you that my meeting with Leslie Barany on this evening was exactly that point of time in my life.
We spoke together of my travels to Gruyeres and Paris and of Giger Art and fascinations.

To have and to keep some visual memories of this evening, I had taken with me the Canon compact 35mm camera that I was using at this time.
Without wanting to appear too obtrusive, I took a small number of photographs in the street outside Arludik that held the excited gathering of visitors.
This was now the second time in my life that I was in a place where Giger Art was for sale, but only the first time in my life that I had seen separate Prints from what is the very special collection of the New York City series by HR Giger.
I was, at this point, totally captivated.

My satisfaction from this visit to Paris now seemed complete as I walked away from Arludik, filled with the intoxication from my consumption of glasses of free punch that were served, and the memories of meetings and conversations that I was still as yet, to fully see the path that these would lead me to.