New YorkBirth Machine Baby. Curated by Harmony Korine
H. R. Giger and Mark Prent are both masters of navigating beauty, horror, science fiction, and fantasy. I’ve admired their works for a while; they both defy genre in a way that is difficult to articulate. They create and inhabit their own worlds, populating them with classic nods to both film and sculptural tradition. Giger and Prent’s works are dense and powerful, filled with shocking characters and strange magic. The time seems right to see these two great artists together in one room.
Gagosian presents Birth Machine Baby, an exhibition curated by Harmony Korine, featuring works by H. R. Giger and Mark Prent.
In this exhibition, Korine pairs eerie humanoid figures by Giger—whose name has been cemented in Hollywood history for his visual effects and design work on the Alien film franchise—with sculptures by Prent, a Canadian artist whose grotesque and provocative depictions of the human body were greatly admired by Giger himself. Despite the divergences in Giger’s and Prent’s chosen styles and mediums, both artists’ interests lie in coaxing out latent fantastical forms from the contours of the human body.
Depicting subject matter gleaned from the depths of his psychic anxieties, Giger’s stylized sculptures merge writhing, skeletal organisms with elegant metallic features, coalescing in his signature “biomechanical” style. Although Giger was best known for designing the iconic extraterrestrial Xenomorph from Alien (1979), his other works display the full range of his artistic influences, which span from ancient Egyptian statuary to twentieth-century artists such as Salvador Dalí and Francis Bacon.
Displaying a mastery of hyperrealistic sculptural techniques, Prent’s uncanny fiberglass and resin sculptures simultaneously shock and enthrall. His art—which has remained fundamentally grounded in the human form since the 1970s—melds familiar anatomies with bizarre, animalistic limbs and features, provoking a visceral process of recognition and emotional connection in the beholder. Prent’s work challenges our understanding of the body as we know it, creating haunting, chimerical hybrids that elicit innovative visual dialogues when juxtaposed with Giger’s biomechanical creations.
Korine’s cult films of the past twenty years—from the surreal Gummo (1997) to the contemporary “beach noir” Spring Breakers (2012)—merge reality with fiction and handheld camerawork with precise montage. This same heady mix of the unplanned, the seductive, and the outlandish crystallizes in his highly tactile paintings, whose strange, otherworldly motifs revel in the realm of magical realism. Korine’s own art often engages with the film industry; for his BLOCKBUSTER (2018) series, he salvaged a number of VHS tapes from a shuttered Blockbuster video store, augmenting their covers with paint and assembling them into patchwork grids of pop cultural references.
H. R. Giger, Birth Machine Baby, 1998 (detail of two from an edition of 23), aluminum, each: 20 7/8 × 8 3/4 × 8 3/4 inches (53 × 22 × 22 cm) © H. R. Giger Museum, Gruyères, Switzerland. Courtesy Gagosian