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Frans Krajcberg

(1921 - 2017)

Frans Krajcberg was a Polish sculptor and visual artist. Born in 1921, Frans Krajcberg passed away in 2017. Between 1948 and 1954, he created his first sculptures and paintings expressing the direct exposure to nature and an attempt to make elements of the natural environment the sole material used in his works. In 1951, he participated in the 1st São Paulo Art Biennial. He moved to the Minas Gerais state in Brazil, to the Pico da Cata Branca cave in the Itabirito region. The locals called him ‘barbudo das pedras’ (the bearded stone man), as he lived an ascetic life in isolation, washing in the nearby river and sculpting in stone. Zé do Mato, the artist's exhibition assistant and technician, reminisces that Krajcberg ‘wanted to run away from humans, he resembled a wounded animal.’ He was saved by Brazilian nature, which smiled at him and never asked where he came from and what his religion was. 'That is when  discovered life' – the artist confessed in an interview. He later moved to the state of Paraná in southern Brazil, where he was hired as an engineer at a paper factory, but eventually moved to an isolated location in a forest and started painting (1952–1956). In 1956, he started living in Rio de Janeiro, where he shared a studio with Franz Weissmann (1911–2005), an Austrian artist, one of the major Brazilian sculptors of 20th century, and a student of August Zamoyski. A year later, Krajcberg obtained Brazilian citizenship and received the title of the country's best painter at the São Paulo Biennial. Beginning in the late 1950s, he often travelled to Europe, temporarily living in Paris, as well as Ibiza and Brazil. During that period, he created oil paintings and sculpted, drawing inspiration from Japanese art. In 1959, while in Ibiza, he started creating monochromatic reliefs decorated with natural pigments – Terras craqueladas (Cracked Earth). In 1964, he took part in the Venice Biennale, and afterwards returned permanently to Brazil, where he established an art studio in Cata Blanca and started creating sculptures and other spatial forms. That was when he created his first sculptures out of dead cedar trees. In 1970, he gained international recognition thanks to his sculptures made of charred wood. Krajcberg also started creating a new cycle titled Cutout Shadows, created out of specially trimmed vines.

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