Only a short ferry-hop across the Lipno Lake lies a pretty, small town of Aigen - just over the Austrian border. And if Cesky Krumlov is a supposed centre of art and artists in the South of Bohemia, its close Austrian neighbour might beat it hands down in being more bohemian still, in a truly wonderful, outrageous fashion.
This is because it became the home of a British gallerist, Nicholas Treadwell, who moved his famous British gallery here, of all places - into the back of beyond, where he bought the historic Aigen courthouse and town jail, painted it all pink, inside and outside, and voila!, filled it with his collection of paintings and sculptures in what he calls a 'superhumanist' style. His large, fabulous collection ranges from meticulously over-realistic humans, usually in a state of some surprise or torment, to funny, joky, super-colourful views of life as his artists would see it - mostly again with a thorn in the joke somewhere.
Nicholas Treadwell himself is a charismatic man who clearly loves his life in art, and the artists he represents. Besides art, he indulges in theatre and plays music, an iconoclastic figure who proudly puts on his advertising leaflets a quote from a Guardian critic:
'Nicholas Treadwell has done for fine art, what McDonald has done for haute cuisine'.
If you have a few days in Cesky Krumlov, do take a trip there: it only takes half an hour or so. You drive to the Lipno lake and take a delightful ferry ride, and then on through a deep dark forest (empty of humans or dwellings, as this used to be the 'no-man's land' of the ex-Iron Curtain), descending into Aigen which in itself is worth a trip for its Austrian chocolate-box pretty-ness. How apt for the bad taste which Treadwell so loves :-)
When we got there, we were greeted by the man himself, dressed and coiffured in pink, and although there were only three of us, we were given a 2-hr tour with so much information, detail and anecdotes, that it felt like a huge privilege, a true 'insider' view that you simply don't get anywhere else. Certainly not at the immensely boring and stuck-up, grant-fat Egon Shiele centre gallery in Cesky Krumlov!
More on Nicholas Treadwell and his gallery here: take a look.