Franz Xaver Ölzant

1934 (Oberzeiring/Styria), lives in Praffenschlag (Lower Austria)

From 1955 until 1958, he studied at the University for applied art in Vienna under Hans Knesl. From 1978 until 1982 he followed studies at the Academy for fine arts in Vienna, where he was also professor from 1986 until 2001. Franz Xaver Ölzant’s artistic roots date back to the 1950s, when the young generation of artists had begun to orientate itself amongst the multifarious examples of classical modernism. Amongst his artistic models were Jean Arp and Henry Moore who, with forms taken from nature, inspired him to experiment with an early history of culture. In1964 he exhibited at the Künstlerhaus, Vienna.

At the end of the 1970s, he intensely occupied himself with stone, in particular diorite and granite, which he used to produce large sculptures. With his work, the artist tries to bring the original structure and characteristics of the stone to the foreground by depicting the influence of the weather or evoking associations of prehistoric use. More intensely he worked with erratic blocks of granite he would find in quarries. Often those erratic blocks would be worked on only partially without changing their basic form. Thus they give an archaic impression and offer some mystical-spiritual dimension.

One of the best-known works is “Große Basilika” at Gudenusfeld, which is a large installation that should remind us of the Roman basilica with its five naves. This installation consists of 97 erratic blocks of granite, arranged in an arc in six rows, bordered by two meditation stones on the sides facing the forest. In their arrangement, the untreated stones seem mystical and remind us of places of worship like Stonehenge in Great Britain, Menhire in Bretagne or of barrows in northern spheres.

In 1979, together with Leo Kornbrust, Özlant officially opened the road of sculptures in St. Wendel. In 1980 the artist received the honorary prize of the city of Vienna. In 1990 he was awarded the honorary prize of the Region of Styria and in 2005 he was given the honorary prize of the Region of Lower Austria.

Ölzant’s complete works are characterised by an anthropomorphic-organic idea. One of the interesting elements in his work is the ambiguity, which he develops between abstract, biomorphic and cultic design. His preferred materials are plaster, wood, stone and bronze. Ölzant does not work figuratively but abstracts figures and bodies in archaic austerity. His sculptures take up ornamental shapes which become individual and lead to a shape of their own. Many of his sculptures are also landscape sculptures that fuse with their environment in a thrilling way.

His exhibitions in international symposia in Germany, Macedonia and Japan made him known outside Austria. In 2003 he exhibited his works at the Academy of fine arts.