Frans Krajcberg, the Jewish refugee that creates beauty from burned hardwood in a small beach of the Northeast, just turned 90. His work is frequently seen as an environmental libel, but it is also the use of nature as a metaphor by someone that couldn’t be in peace with History and humans. “I go to the woods and feel as burned as the trees”, he often says. “My works are my manifest. The fire is death, abyss. The fire is always with me. The destruction has forms. I am searching for images to scream my revolt.”
Krajcberg was born in Kozienice, Poland, and moved to Russia and then France after losing his family in the Holocaust. In Paris, he became a protegé of Marc Chagall and Georges Braque. Later, in 1948, he moved to Brazil, where he found inspiration in fallen trees, frequently burned by intentional fires – images that portrait human destruction and the eternal menace on the forests of Nova Viçosa, in the south of Bahia, where he established his workshop.
About his Brazilian experience, Krajcberg says:
I was born in this world called nature and I felt its greatest impact in Brazil. Here I feel I was born for a second time; here I became conscious of being a man and of participating in life with my sensibility, my work, my thoughts… Except for the Indians, here we all come from abroad and relate to the wild forests, rich, full of movement, vibrating with colours, growing freely. Here I do not feel stifled by the cultivated woods of Europe or worried by the European intolerances.
“You can learn more about his work with this article or this peculiar documentary, “Socorro Nobre”, directed by Walter Salles (“Central do Brasil”/Brazil Station and “The Motorcycle Diaries”). Krajcberg talks about his story and his art and crosses his path with Socorro Nobre’s – an inmate that was sentenced to more than twenty-one years in a Salvador prison. You can see it here, but unfortunately only in Portuguese.