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TravelJeju Travel
Rendezvous with an Austrian Art Master in Udo
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승인 2022.04.24  17:15:57
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▲ Hundertwasser Museum

When it comes to Austrian art, people know Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, and the list usually stops there. Here’s one more to remember: Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The three of them together complete the greatest Austrian artists of the 20th century.

Hundertwasser is a painter and architect. With intense colors, unique aesthetics, and brilliant creativity, he crossed the boundaries of canvas and cement. He constantly explored and experimented with artistic style and tried to come up with a theoretical definition of aesthetics. In addition to painting with a brush, he expanded the direction of his art to the realm of life. In the real world, he was an environmentalist who practiced natural conservation, forestry movement, and anti-nuclear activism. Hundertwasser’s venture into architecture was a way of being involved in the artistic life of the public. He literally bulldozed ahead with all his might.

▲ Hundert Cafe

Hundertwasser is a name that he gave himself when he was 21 years old. Hundert means “hundred,” and wasser means “water” in German. His name may not be widely known in Korea, but there is a new park named after him. Hundertwasser Park opened in Udo Island, Jeju. The park is divided into three sections, with the centerpiece being the Hundertwasser Museum. Behind the museum, the condominium Hundert Hills stands like a small fortress, and a large cafe called Hundert Winds is open on the beachside with a beautiful view of Seongsan Ilchulbong.

Hundertwasser Park is located at Tolkani Beach under Gwangdaekoji, at the foot of Udobong Peak. Tolkani is also known as cholkani—chol meaning hay for feeding horses and cattle, and kani meaning mangers in Jeju dialect. In other words, tolkani or cholkani means “a manger for livestock.” Tolkani Beach is a sandy sunken area under Udobong Peak.

This key area in Udo, close to the port where ships come and go from Seongsanpo and overlooking the sea of Tolkani, was originally intended for a luxury resort. But the project fell apart; the resort construction project couldn’t start because of concerns about overdevelopment and complicated licensing issues, and the residents of Udo also opposed the plan. They discovered Hundertwasser amid this disarray. He was an accomplished artist with brilliant masterpieces, and his works could be transformed into buildings because he was also an architect. Above all, he was the perfect artist for Udo because as someone who cared about the environment and upheld eco-friendly values throughout his life.

▲ Udo Gallery

The name Hundertwasser helped persuade those who were against environmental damage caused by reckless development. The luxury resort construction plan was scrapped, and the design for Hundertwasser Park placed a museum exhibiting Hundertwasser’s works at the center with lodging and a bakery cafe as ancillary facilities. In the process, the size of the condominium hotel was drastically reduced to 48 guestrooms.

Vegetation was preserved by transplanting 1,600 trees from the development site to the park without cutting them down and having a rooftop garden connected to the yard. Installing the most advanced wastewater purification system changed the minds of residents who had opposed the resort construction. This is the backstory of how Hundertwasser Park, home to the first Hundertwasser Museum in Asia, came to Udo Island in Jeju.

Though the whole property is named Hundertwasser Park, Hundertwasser is only found in the museum. There is a condominium hotel and a cafe in the park, but they have little to do with the artist. The Hundertwasser Museum was built to fully reflect his architectural style: the onion-shaped dome roof, the curvy lines, the ceramic columns, the windows of different shapes and patterns, and the gorgeous solid colors painted on the exterior walls. Anyone who knows Hundertwasser’s work can immediately recognize his style in the building.

The Hundertwasser Museum consists of three independent buildings facing each other with a fountain in the center. There is a museum that serves as a permanent memorial for displaying the artist’s 24 paintings and 23 prints, across from Udo Gallery that exhibits invited artists’ works. Lastly, there is a museum shop that sells souvenirs. All three buildings have this in common: their designs are free of straight lines. All of his architecture consists of curves. To the architect, the straight line was godless, an enemy of creativity, and “the devil’s tools.” He also emphasized the autonomy of the building’s residents.

When he completed Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna, Austria, he included a “window rights” clause in the tenant contract. It ensured the rights of all tenants to paint their windows in any color, to adorn them, and to decorate them with colorful tiles as they like. In other words, he recommended against the common rule of modern apartment housing. His idea was that a house belongs to the people who live there and that it should not be standardized in terms of function and practicality.

▲ Cafe Tolkani

The Hundertwasser Museum building has different sizes and shapes of windows and columns. None of them have identical shapes or patterns. Both the stairs and the railing are wavy curves. Because it is unfeasible to include all the trivial interior curves in the blueprint, Hundertwasser gave autonomy to housebuilders. During the construction process, the workers were allowed to shape them as they wished.

The arbitrary construction and decoration of buildings revealed a vivid and spirited aesthetic. The case was different when constructing Hundertwasser Park in Udo because workers chose a simple and quick process instead of coming up with elaborate aesthetics. Nonetheless, the same method of giving autonomy to the workers was applied.

The exceptional mood at the large bakery cafe Hundert Winds, overlooking Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak across the sea through the high windows, and the cozy atmosphere of the Mediterranean-style condominium hotel Hundert Hills are more than enough reasons to visit Udo. HundertwasserMuseum’s solid colors and smooth curves are also perfect for taking stunning, one-of-a-kind photos.

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