Today I browsed my favourite online design magazine and found an article about a place I know well: the spa in Blumau, a little village in the south-east of Austria. I used to live closeby in another little village. The entire region is defined by its spa-tourism, today. It seems, if one digs a hole in the ground anywhere in the area, hot water rises immedeately (not true, as my house had its own well and the water was nice and cool). The beautiful, hilly countryside rolling into the big Hungarian plane to the east and the fact, that the entire region was really off side everything, as long as the so-called “iron curtain” to the former “East” was still up, cramped in between Hungary and former Yugoslavia, with just little farm villages and a few small towns with nowhere to go from or to, made it a forlorn jewel, interesting to no one. But to be the forgotten corner of otherwise thriving Austria had some positive effects, paying off today: no industry, intact nature, most produce homegrown and of the finest quality, including wines and some of the best fruit schnaps you can get. Plus the mild climate compared to the rest of alpine Austria and the down-to earth, friendly rural population prone to good food and drink (along with some no-go political ideas, I have to add), made it the perfect region to develope tourism. So when you leave the southbound motorway from Vienna to trail a little south-east, you pass an entire chain of inviting spa – spots, complete with hotels and fine, private B & Bs, often also offering various sports such as hiking, tennis, biking, golf and so on. Bad Waltersdorf, Bad Tatzmannsdorf, Stegersbach, Sebersdorf, Loipersdorf, Blumau, Bad Radkersburg, Bad Gleichenberg, there is no end.
And one of those villages decided to have Friedensreich Hundertwasser design their spa, obviously still worth being mentioned in a fairly modern online design magazine today. To some, the art of Hundertwasser stands rightfully in line with all other, great Austrian artists. He even got his own museum in Vienna, the Kunsthaus, if not exclusively, but much of it is dedicated to his work. I dutifully went to see it a long time ago, to find out, whether I was wrong. But to this day I don’t like his art very much. His paintings of colourful spirals never meant anything to me. Maybe decorative art, a sorry attempt to take the spirits of Klimt and Schiele into a new, modern era (Bauhaus did a much better job at this, I think). His architecture, albeit completely different from anything ever built before, looked more like oversized kindergarden buildings to me. Or dwellings for dwarfs, elfs, Hobbits and the like (another branch of artistic expression, I am not very fond of – here comes my confession: I am neither into Lord of the Rings nor into Harry Potter).
So, what brings me to write this post about Hundertwasser and Blumau? Homesickness? Nostalgia? The relative unagitated and nice way, he moulded the spa into the countryside? I don’t know exactly. If there ever was one aspect of Hundertwasser’s work, I really liked, it was his work in New Zealand, where he bought a valley and experimented with grass-covered dwellings and lived in accordance with nature. He succeded with living self-sufficient, purification plant and everything. At a time, when “Green Partys” didn’t exist yet and nobody gave a toss about the environment. There you are, I do like something about Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser aka Friedrich Stowasser.