Sunday, June 26, 2011

{Vienna} Falling in love off the beaten track

Hot off the heels of dark and decadent Prague, came Vienna, Austria.
Prim and proper Vienna in all of it's classical beauty. Meticulously spotless, every garden was pristine and every cobbled stone street swept clean - as if the entire city was washed down every night and neatly tidied up every morning before you awake. While undoubtably gorgeous, I found that sense of perfection tiresome (and slightly boring) after awhile.

While pleasing on the eyes, I had to wonder where was the edge? Where were the dark alleyways that one finds gems hiding, where the true essence of a city can be found? Outside of the city centre, far off the beaten path where the glitz and glamor have long since been forgotten I found what I was looking for in the Kunst Haus Wien

The Hundertwassan museum is one of the most delectable museums I've ever been in. I spent 3 hours wandering inside and could have easily spent more. Established in 1991, the former Thonet furniture factory was remodeled on the basis of the renowned Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser's philosophy, artistic principles and designs. The first two floors hold a permanent collection of his work, while the top two floors are devoted to rotating exhibitions from various international artists. While there I had the privilege of seeing a comprehensive retrospective of H.R Giger's work entitled "Dreams and Visions." The bottom floor held the most charming of cafes and a dangerous collection of shiny trinkets in the gift shop.

Front of the Kunst Haus Wien

Hundertwasser's work is captivating in it's sheer playfulness and childlike wonder. Inspired by nature and other revolutionary artists such as Gaudi, Hundertwasser's paintings, textiles and architecture exude an energy that fills you with joy. His use of color is almost sensual in it's vibrancy and when combined with gold and silver foils, the saturated tones creates a spectrum of hues I could have stared at all day. 

An advocate for living a more sustainable  life that coexists with rather than impedes on our environment, Hundertwasser incorporated his love of spirals, colors and organic forms into both his paintings and architecture. Calling straight lines "the devils tools" as they are not organically found in nature, neither his paintings nor his buildings incorporated any. Instead there is a whimsical surreal feel to his work that transports you to another place and time. In 1958 he formulated his "Mouldiness Manifesto Against Rationalism in Architecture" in which he denounced "rationalism, the straight line and functional architecture" and proclaimed himself an architectural doctor whose responsibility included "transforming ugly, monotonous and sterile buildings." How awesome is that? I am completely enamored with this guy and his viciousness to create a more beautiful life for generations to come. 
The Hundertwasser Haus, Vienna via

Forest Spiral” Darmstadt, Germany via
In stock contrast to Hundertwasser's work lay the disturbingly brilliant, or rather brilliantly disturbing, pieces by H.R. Giger. The creative mastermind behind the otherworldly creatures in Ridley Scott's "Alien" and the hybrid female Sil from the film "Species," Giger captivates the nightmarish underworld of our subconscious with deadly precision. At times controversial, he is truly an artist of visions who uses the airbrushing technique to render his distinctive bio-mechanical style that is stunning in it's detail and painfully exquisite despite the demonic prose. Morbid, revolutionary and sexually charged Giger's work is thought provoking as it delves into the deepest innermost fears, doubts and desires of human psyche in a way that no one before, or after will ever so clearly articulate.   

His work was the perfect antidote to Hundertwasser. The ying to the yang, the darkness to the light, the happy to the morbid -I found  the two exhibits perfectly suited to accentuate the duality of human nature - or at the very least my own. I left completely blown away with inspiration, the likes of which come rushing back every time I'm reminded of my visit there. 

"Our real illiteracy is our inability to create.
To Paint is a religious activity"

It's safe to say the Kunst Huas Wien was a testament to all that I loved and despite my friend not wanting to come with, I am so thankful I forged ahead alone. One of the valuable tidbits I picked up on this trip was that at some point, it is vital to make time for yourself, to go off and explore on your own. Regardless of whether you're with your partner, lover, sister or as was my case, best friend - having that time alone can revitalize and lift your spirits. I was able to look at Vienna from a different perspective, to see the city with fresh eyes that did not include a guidebook summary of what I should see or do. Those few precious hours where I had no agenda, no one to please and nothing to do except wander aimlessly were exactly what I needed.I got myself lost and in doing so found myself. 

{Photo credits} As cameras weren't allowed inside the museum, the few shots I did sneakily take aren't that great, all images of the art works were sourced online from the Kunst Haus Wien unless otherwise noted

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