Johann Dominik Mahlknecht (*1793 in Ortisei (Val Gardena), †1876 in Paris)
Johann Dominik Mahlknecht was born on 13 November 1793 at the Rainell family home in St. Ulrich, Gröden, Italy. He was taught at a young age how to carve. He was so talented that young Dominik's father sent him to other well-known carvers for further training. He soon moved to France as a teenager and dedicated himself to a complete education in the art of sculpture. In Lyon, he sold a few pieces of his works in order to rent himself a studio in Paris, so that he could further expand his studies. He critical moment in his life was in 1812 when he moved to the culturally-rich city of Nantes. He produced several pieces in the workshop of the well-known Joseph Debay (1779-1863) which were actually meant just for the master himself, but established Dominik as an up and coming artist at the very young age of 20 years. On 4 September 1826, he was appointed by the French King Karl X "Artist to his Royal Highness" and a carving studio at the Quai D'Orsay No. 9 was placed at his disposal.
Luis Mahlknecht (*29.01.1910 in Ortisei (Val Gardena), †03.03.2000)
Luis Mahlknecht was also born at the Rainell family home in St. Ulrich. He is considered one of the finest Val Gardena painters that ever lived. Bera Luis Rainell - as he was called in the valley - learned his craft as a small boy to help out with the family finances. But his skills were so recognized that as a young man, numerous painters came to train with him from throughout the Gardena valley. In many years he had over 100 artists at his studio under his tutelage! In the 1950's, he introduced a new painting method for woodcarved figures: "Lasieren with Ölfarbe" which roughly translates to "varnishing with oil-based paints".
Peter and Gertrud Mahlknecht:
Peter Mahlknecht learned his craft under the care of his father, Bera Luis Rainell. He implemented many new and interesting Motifs for the carving enthusiast. In order to develop his new ideas and meet the strong demand these specialized wood carvings, he - along with his wife Gertrude - founded company PEMA in 1969. Their concept was to build a workshop that could manufacture rich and diverse works of art. Peter pays particular attention to perfecting each unique figure. Specialists in the field recognize the works PEMA as one-of-a-kind. Indeed, the popularity of Pema wood carvings can be seen in the many world-wide attempts to imitate the models. To this day, the company maintains its cutting-edge art, producing new motifs every year. Select alpine wood is expertly carved and painted in the old traditions, which gives a lasting value to all PEMA figures. Realistic facial expressions and a natural radiance allows each individual figure to distinguish itself.
Alex, Patrick, Ivo and Walter Mahlknecht
Peter and Gertrud's four sons joined the business in the early 90's and have been critical in the world-wide expansion of PEMA - from design to marketing. The guiding principles remain the same: carvings that are the epitomy of beauty and will give joy to their owners for generations to come.