HR Giger's The Spell I :
Vestigial remnants of "Jesus Christ Superstar"?

Leading from
Giger's  The Spell I

The Spell I

a) Li Tobler merged with a crufixion imagery and pantheistic Bes
As we known, this is the image of HR Giger's girlfriend and partner of a decade, Li Tobler, in The Spell I, absorbed into this strange crucifix that has also merged with a piece of polytheistic Ancient Egyptian religion in the form of a pantheistic Bes made up from various version of Bes with features that inspired Giger, along with a depiction of the young man Horus turned here into a woman. Tying in perhaps with the idea that some parts of the image come from the Jesus statue in Rio De Janeiro, Jesus Christ Superstar came out on Broadway in 1971 as an Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice rock opera production with Jeff Fenholt as Jesus, and soon reached the British stage in 1972 with Paul Nicholas playing the lead role. In 1973, Norman Jewison's movie came out causing a deserved sensation and people in their small lives were exposed to it one way or another whether they liked it or not. And so perhaps when it came out, Giger was interested to explore some aspects of her feelings about her religion and through the painting sensationalised them. In the film, many characters were standing with arms and hands outstretched

Li's face surrounded by mysterious organic forms and the Jesus Christ Superstar logo

Li Tobler

b) Li Tobler's internal conflicts
Li Tobler, as her brother Paul would come to point out, was a woman with inner conflicts between her puritanical Catholic upbringing where so many things were bad and forbidden, so many things were impure and reprehensible. And then she was moving into this other world amongst actors and artists that seemed near enough Bohemianism where everything was permitted and there were no taboos. And so this caused her huge emotional and psychological problems and these would lead to her suicide in 1975.

Jeff Fenholt as Jesus in the original Broadway production in 1971


Carl Anderson, as Judas, in Norman Jewison's film of Jesus Christ Superstar
More performers with arms and hands outstretched


Quote source
  1. Paul Tobler (brother of Li Tobler): I do think that the atmosphere at home was laden with the contradictions of Catholicism. Of an extremely puritanical upbringing. That's how it was. And on the other hand, the world she suddenly became part of, where everything was permitted and there were no taboos. This caused her huge emotional and psychological problems. So many things were bad and forbidden. So many things were impure and reprehensible. And then if you discover a different side to yourself and try to balance these two worlds within yourself, it's extremely hard. (Dark Star: H.R. Giger's World documentary)

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