“I love stone”: the sculptor Franz Rosei is 75

The Viennese found the perfect shelter in the former winemaker’s house. Where once barrels of wine were stored and the tavern invited the public from the suburbs to rest, now there are living, working and exhibition rooms. Here are not only the sculptures that the sculptor is currently working on, but also essential parts of the work of life that deserve respect. An artist who studied ceramic sculpture at the Academy of Applied Arts and initially experimented with cast concrete, decided early on to concentrate on stone.

This change of material was the responsibility of Alfred Hrdlicka, who recommended Rosei’s stone as an ideal medium for him. But not only aesthetically distinguished the figurative and very expressive political artist, and abstract works, restrained abstract worlds. “Hrdlicka really jumped the stones at work,” says Rosei – a tremendous effort that left strong physical marks. By comparison, Rosei is very gentle with its stones, not giving them a shape, but grinding them to shape.

Even after more than 50 years of working with the stone, it seems physically fit. “I have to watch out for the cross,” admits the sculptor. This is due to the fact that his items will soon weigh 500 kilograms. Anyone who does not exercise the utmost care and use technology properly when moving items will have to pay a bitter price. On average, she spends about eight months with the stone, “until I feel it’s over,” says Franz Rosei. There is a sketch of a drawing that “becomes narrower and narrower”, but the material also develops its own life during work, which must be respected.

Rosei works with sandstone, limestone, or marble, such as trout marble, which is crisscrossed with red dots. “I love stone – in all its forms. It’s fun to work with such a noble, but still old material. “

When Franz Rosei talks about his stones, the sculptor Karl Prantl, who died in 2010, inevitably comes to mind, who was just as affectionate about his sculptures. He appreciated it, says Rosei, but doesn’t want to see his work as “meditation stones.” They are not symbolic, metaphorical, but specific. Forms that do not have a physical reference, but which represent themselves. “It’s not torsos – that’s always all!” And he quickly avoided the sculpture symposiums where Prantl gathered colleagues from Burgenland from near and far. He has never been able to do anything about the drunkenness and competition he experienced there. “Even at the academy, I realized that I had to work alone.”

About 65 stones have been collected in Rosea’s studio – Brother Peter calls it “family”. But there are also a little more than a dozen bronzes here. In 1984, he tried his hand at casting bronze for the first time, says the artist. “It’s a completely different language that is in demand.” However, the materials have one thing in common: they are not suitable for outdoor installation. The stones he used would quickly be attacked by acid rain, and the bronzes displayed in public threatened to be stolen for its sheer material value, he says.

In 2001, the last comprehensive Franz Rosea retrospective was held at the Historical Museum of the City of Vienna. There is no great tribute to the 75 in any museum. For example, Albertina has only a few drawings, but none of his sculptures, says the artist. “I just don’t have any rope teams. But I am satisfied. The most important thing for me is that I can work in peace. “

In September, a small exhibition will be devoted to Franz Rosea in the Jesuit foyer. And before his birthday, a beautiful monograph was published by the Müry Salzmann publishing house. In addition to the photos of his sculptures and exhibitions, and the illustrations of his drawings, there is an informative conversation with the artist. In addition, Peter Rosei wrote several essays. “When you come face to face with my brother’s collection of figurines, be it on display or in the studio, the first thing that throws you is beauty, depending on the light, radiant, luminous or just slightly twinkling, something flowing and maybe What it is smooth, caused by the color of the stones, their nobility – the nobility of the surface – by harmoniously adjusting the proportions, ”he says.

Contrary to the sculptor, the writer reads stories from stones: “My brother’s sculptures could be interpreted as a kind of writing or diary, as a curriculum vitae, or even better as an ever-added sum. In this way, what is experienced and what he thinks is summed up, stands still, lags behind – like milestones on the road. ” Thus, the 75th birthday can also be read as a station: a short break in a journey that lasts.

(SERVICE – Franz Rosei: “The Oeuvre”, with texts by Peter Rosei and a conversation between Claudia Sihler-Rosei and Franz Rosei, Müry Salzmann, 240 pp., 38 euro)

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