Gabriele Prödl-Posch with daughter Paula, Indie and Naeli

chest dated 1777, farmhouse cabinet dated 1750, candlesticks 18th cent., mirror 19th cent.

painted chest 18th cent., cabinet dated 1719, painted farmhouse cabinet dated 1766, mirror 19th cent., pietà 18th cent.

painted chest 18th cent., painted cabinet 18th cent., painted farmhouse chest dated 1861, mirror 19. cent., stools 19th cent.

Homage to antique rustic furniture

I often stand enraptured before a piece of antique rustic furniture and am frankly puzzled by how utterly absorbed and moved I can be by this object – so much so that I have not only stopped in my routine stride briefly, but also find that I have paused to reflect inwardly.

It is the graceful appearance, the quiescent and well-balanced totality of a piece of antique furniture; evoked by the original unity the creator once formed with his furniture, and the time that was consumed in order to let it develop without having to glance at the clock. The countryside, natural gifts of the region and the mentality of the people at the place of manufacture all made an impression on their work. They are works which were dedicated to life.

There was this instinctive will to instil the work with all the available skills and passion without any intention to formulate it beforehand. Working exclusively with one’s hands lends character to the work. It is evident how much attention was paid to selecting and treating the materials. Timber joints are visible and become an element of design; the constructively correct way of the furniture’s build brings a kind of immediateness to its expression.

The fine art of craftsmanship is reflected in the carvings and painting. Carved or painted decorations upgrade the value of antique rustic furniture. Light-hearted painting styles and elementary techniques convey originality. Hence, it is often the naïve motifs that touch us most. Essentially, they tell us of the most important reasons for living and the feasts we should celebrate – most of all, though, they tell of love in powerful and unmistakable symbols. It is the colours that are derived from nature that are so sensual. It is the forms that are taken from real life that are so harmonious and free-flowing.

A piece of antique rustic furniture stands there self-assured; it reveals its nature quite candidly, fascinating us with its unpretentious and powerful features.

What remains an unfathomable phenomenon are the proportions. The more archaic antique rustic furniture appears to be, the less it seems to follow a working plan. Behind the aesthetics of form rests the amorphous. Irregularity and coincidence produce moments of surprise that irritate and prompt us to take a second look. And that is precisely where the great charm of rustic furniture lies: in that uncalculated asymmetry. Also, maybe because we shall never learn why things are as they are. For me, antique rustic furniture represents the ideal dimensions of beauty. Beauty is always the result of what is right and thus retains its strength. The more arts and crafts come into play, the more our emotionally-grounded admiration shifts towards the appreciation of artistic skills, which likewise arouse emotions.

Antique rustic furniture draws its intrinsic magic, not in the least, from its patina, which captures us with a radiant, profound richness that took time to grow. Good thing that we can discern traces of use. However, in no way do they affect the furniture’s nature; on the contrary, they intensify its character as an antique solitaire. I suppose we could concoct all sorts of stories of how the one or the other feature could have arisen and we revel in the imaginative power that such an antique unfolds in us. The surface seems to have a soft and velvety texture, presenting us with an expressively cultivated offering. When we touch the surface we truly come into contact with the materials, they are precisely what they are – no more and no less. And that “more” which they bring for us personally is generated by our own senses.

Gabriele Prödl-Posch

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