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In Paris, in the 1960s, Frans Krajcberg began to work on his “cut shadows”. Shadow is a way of freeing the work from its frame while giving life to dead elements magnified by light. 


With an astonishing plastic modernity, the cut-out silhouette is both negation and affirmation of the painting. “The idea came to me in Minas, but it was in Paris that I made my first cast shadows. I wanted to break the square, get out of the frame. I had more than one reason to do it. Nature ignores squares,  movement turns. (…) Life is not square and has no fixed forms. (…) The abstraction of squares accompanied the revolutions of the beginning of the century, as Expressionism accompanied the misery. I have always had an expressionist sensibility and I have never recognized myself in Concretism. I didn’t want art for the sake of art. I wanted to find new forms. Nature offered me thousands. "


Frans Krajcberg, black lianas (Drop Shadow series). Lianas, plywood and natural pigments (manganese), 1982, 245 x 113 x 40 cm.

The technique consists in capturing the shadow of a natural element (root, branch, seed… whose shape fascinated him), drawn with a line, then cut in a wooden support. The element, fixed on the support, gives relief and volume. The assembled parts are often painted in a bright color that unites them closely. Together they evoke time, space, the fragility of life ... 

The shadows remove any idea of opposition between Art and Nature: “By cutting and projecting the shadows, he opens a new form of contemplation of nature, contemplation which allows to associate the internal rhythms of nature to the rhythms created by the artist” (Federico MORAIS, 2004).  


“I owe more to Arp’s cut-outs than to Matisse’s cut-outs. (…)  My research consisted in trying out different lighting to choose a shadow. There is an infinity of them. No man makes the same shadow and the shadow of the same man is always moving. I wanted to unify the object with its shadow. I tried to find the object in its shadow. I searched in nature the possibility to renew the life of art by uniting with different forms captured from it. The drop shadows added a form to it. It was my contribution”.  

In the first pieces, the cutting with the hard, “constructive” or “concrete” geometry, is opposed to natural lines fluidity the form underlines. Over the years, it was closer to it, as a blueprint of a side lighting.  


Frans Krajcberg worked with shadows for about 20 years, but will return to it constantly until the end of his life. He observes, studies and tests all the possibilities offered by this technique. He uses wood flowers from the Itabira region (MG), mangroves from Nova Viçosa (BA) and lianas from the Amazon. Sometimes he adds piassava fibers. 


This production, according to Féderico Morais can be grouped into three groups: 

“in the first, works with a clear opposition between the baroque style of the floral sets and the rigidity of the orthogonal supports, are fragmented into two or more parts. 

A second group gathers the pieces in which the shadows act directly upon the support,  progressively wearing it out as they perforate it. In both cases, the composition is frontal and the shadows work in depth. 

A third block groups the works in which the projected shadows move away, almost coming out of the support, as if it were a profile drawing, a graphic that becomes viable in space, in three dimensions.” 

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