On Saturday, Habiba and I went with another friend, June, to an exhibition of works by the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser (who, in some photos, looked like my friend Drew). What struck us most about his artwork – which ranges from watercolours and silkscreen to carpets to architecture and beyond – was it bold colouring. Also central to his work is its organic quality – one quote of Hundertwasser’s is ‘The straight line leads to the loss of humanity’.
The exhibition featured a fair number of artworks and several scale models of buildings that he either designed or redesigned. People were allowed to take photographs, and, unusually, there were no rope barriers between visitors and the works – just tape on the floor – so you could get very close to the work if you really wanted. Most people respected the exhibits and each other enough to not do so. One exhibit was a water purification system consisting of several troughs with plants in them.
I liked the colourfulness of the work – especially the high-contrast vibrancy of the architecture – although I didn’t really get much of a message from the apparent psychedelic naïveté of the painting style. The various texts describing Hundertwasser’s life and philosophy were more illuminating – clearly the man was a complete hippy – one sign talked about the mystical significance of spirals going clockwise or anti-clockwise, inwards or outwards.
The variety of the exhibits and the freedom of the visitors – and the relatively low numbers of visitors – made this quite a pleasurable gallery trip.