The soul of wood

Horst Pali is a skilled sculptor and firmly rooted in the Tyrolean countryside. He has little to do with kitsch, but his carved figures are contemporary, clear in style and if you look closely, you will see that Horst has given each one something special: a soul.

kitzbueheler-alpen-lebenswege-horst-pali-c-kitzbueheler-alpen-daniel-gollner-33© Daniel Gollner Fotografie

A sculptor’s profession is an old tradition in Tyrol. But according to Horst Pali, this craft is far from being threatened with extinction: "Of course, a milling machine or a laser printer can replace manual work nowadays, but there is one thing that computer-controlled machines will never succeed in doing: to incorporate the individual character of a sculptor into the figure, to give wood a soul." This ability is the sole responsibility of human beings. These are the chosen people who were born with a passion for handicrafts, like Horst Pali. Even in primary school, his teachers noticed how talented the boy was in drawing lessons. "Even years later, when I was attending grammar school, my works were still exhibited in the primary school." When the time was right, Horst and his father considered which way of life would now be right for him. "Advertising agencies or graphic designers didn't exist then as we now know them, so from 1980 to 1984 I attended the technical school for wood and stone sculpture in Elbigenalp under the direction of Professor Rudolf Geisler-Moroder. " The professor became Horst's mentor throughout his life. "After graduating, I started my own business and was allowed to do various jobs for him in his studio. His wisdom and wealth of knowledge continue to shape my art to this day." He currently passes on this knowledge as a teacher at his former school in Elbigenalp.

© Daniel Gollner Fotografie
© Daniel Gollner Fotografie
© Daniel Gollner Fotografie

Silent heroes

Horst Pali tries to keep up with the times. When he drives his tools through the wood, he carves out his own style. He is not concerned with imitating the classical baroque style, but rather thinks more contemporary. Clear lines, reduction to the essentials and special materials characterise his work. "A colleague of mine once put it in a nutshell when he said: 'The carver cuts away what he sees. The artist cuts what he feels.‘ It's about giving the figure in question a feeling, which the beholder ultimately recognises." His works can be found all over the country.

In the municipality of Fieberbrunn Horst created a village nativity scene with life-size figures. The 14 stations of the cross leading to the Gmail Chapel in St. Johann originate from his wood carvings while around the summit of the Kitzbüheler Horn eagles, chamois and bears carved by him adorn the climbing garden in Summer and the ski slopes in Winter. "Many commissions are of a religious nature and are rooted in our customs, including mask carving for various Krampus parades."

© Daniel Gollner Fotografie
© Daniel Gollner Fotografie
© Daniel Gollner Fotografie
© Daniel Gollner Fotografie
© Daniel Gollner Fotografie

Artistic balancing act

Horst is critical of too much kitsch: "We don't need Disneyland parks here, we shouldn't kitsch up our region too much. We have nature, we should remember that." That's why people come to Tyrol, he believes. "When a city dweller hikes up a mountain here and hears the call of an eagle for the first time, it will stay with him for the rest of his life. The mountains make us humble. You realise how small you actually are in comparison to the world. A summit victory and the feeling of pride that comes with it makes you more relaxed." For Horst Pali, Tyrol is a land of diversity: "There are endless ways of life to explore in all four seasons. Breathe the fresh air, enjoy the peace and quiet, good food and drinks among sociable people. People know each other, value each other and every living being. That is Tyrol, that is our character."

Globetrotter with homesickness

kitzbueheler-alpen-lebenswege-horst-pali-c-kitzbueheler-alpen-daniel-gollner-11© Daniel Gollner Fotografie

Although the globetrotter has seen a lot as a mountaineer, the longing for home was ultimately always the greatest: "I travelled a lot from America to Africa, visited the Inca sites in South America, was on an expedition in the wilds of Canada. Many things were impressive and unique, but the desire to return home was a nostalgic one after every long journey. "Afterall, there aren’t many places more beautiful than those we have here ourselves."

Kitzbühel Alps - Ways of Life | Horst Pali

Get to know the master sculptor from St. Johann in Tirol, Horst's, way of life. Find out how the mountain hiker and climber lives in the Kitzbüheler Alpen now.

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Sabine Ertl

Sabine Ertl

...nurture body and soul. Born 1986 in Carinthia, studied media and communication sciences in Klagenfurt. As a freelance journalist, copywriter and blogger she likes to travel a lot. Mountain freak, horse freak, neo-cellist and gourmet. More details: more details

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