Frans Krajcberg…inspiring my work

I have been thinking a lot lately about where my practice and work fits in within the current world of contemporary art. Reading Art and Today has helped, but I have found Linda Weintraub’s To Life! more relevant in relation to what I am doing and what I hope to pursue in future.

Frans Krajcberg is one of the artists which I feel akin to in terms of my current art practice and who I feel are relevant to my plans for the exploratory project.

Frans Krajcberg


Krajcberg uses techniques such as rubbing, casting, moulding and printing to create “impressions, reliefs, pieces of nature.” (Weintraub p.94), which deviate from the traditional portayal of the landscape using painting as a medium. I find Krajcberg’s method of working exciting; using techniques which capture and truly reflect the textures, contours and essence of the natural landscape.

Krajcberg  set up a studio near the Amazon rainforest in 1948, where he used minerals, earth pigments and plants to create a palette of colours which he used to make artworks.

Similarities in my own personal working methods include:

  • Printing from logs and tree stumps (which I was originally inspired to do from the work of Bryan Nash Gill)
  • Taking rubbings from the landscape, especially stones, which I did at the natural slate quarry on Birnam Hill.
  • Using plants and vegetation to create dyes which can be use to make art or to represent their habitat.

Krajcberg felt humbled by nature:

” I walked through the forest and discovered life. Pure life: to be, change, continue, receive light, heat, humidity. When with nature I think the truth, I speak the truth, I demand of myself to be true. When I look at it, I feel in rhythm with birth, death, life’s continuity.”

He also felt outraged and horrified at the deforestation and destruction which was taking place in the Amazon rainforests, and having lost both parents and siblings due to extermination in a Nazi concentration camp, he felt a similar agony each time he witnessed a tree being burned or chopped down, almost as if he saw them as being a kind of extended family who he did not want to lose. In a cry to express what he felt, he created a series of burnt wooden constructions of which he says:

“I do not try to sculpt; I seek shapes for my cry…”

He was a pioneer in the fact that he did not choose to represent the landscape in the distanced, unrealistic way that traditional landscape paintings do.  Instead he strove to make art which reflected the emotional and sensual aspects of the natural landscape around him, rooted in the ethics of Deep Ecology.

I came across this piece which he had sold at Christies in 2010, which is an impression made using paper pulp. I have had a similar hankering to take impressions from tree bark of some of the amazing trees which surround me, but had thought of using alginate to make moulds and resin to make the finished piece.


Above: Untitled 1960 Paper Pulp

krajcberg_frans-untitled~OM0aa300~10000_20100527_N08642_167Above: Untitled 1968 Moulded paper and watercolour on canvas

 I like the fact that Krajcberg uses impressions and mould to create organic abstracts, which capture the essence and feel of nature without merely trying to imitate it with paint. This is something which I feel that I would like to explore further…perhaps by taking a small section of the local landscape and employing some of these techniques to represent elements of it, which could then be joined together to make a mixed media piece, either 2 or 3 dimensional in form.

Seeing the paper pulp method has given me new possibilities. I have used paper pulp in the past, and it fits in with environmentally friendly ethics, as I can source shredded paper quite easily from work. I think that taking impressions using the pulp, I would need to use trees which were fallen or had been felled, as it would not stick to vertical trunks. Even better if I could incorporate the tree bark which I am taking the impression of into the pulp…definitely food for thought!


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