ART HOME PRESENTS ‘RECENT WOOD AND STEEL WORKS’ BY JERAM PATEL

ART HOME, JERAM PATEL, WOOD, STEEL, VADODARA ARTIST

New Delhi: Art Home presents a solo exhibition of sculptures in stainless steel and wood by Vadodara-based veteran artist Jeram Patel from February 6, 2009 to February 15, 2009 at Shridharani Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam, 205, Tansen Marg, New Delhi.

Art Exhibition previously on in India.
From Friday 06 February 2009 to Sunday 15 February 2009
Launch Friday 06 February 2009, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (IST)

Untitled (Big work series) image

Published by anonymous on Friday 30 January 2009.
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Says Asit Shah, curator and Director, Art Home: “Jeram Patel is one of the artists who had turned around the Indian art scene by formulating a new visual identity and method of abstraction in the late 1950’s and 60’s. One can still see the trademark lyrical quality evident in his works. His forms are entwined into each other in such a way that they look like folded limbs and have a unique composition value.”

It’s not easy to change one’s oeuvre at the age of 78 but Jeram Patel has gone ahead and done just that! While most artists of his age would rather rest on past laurels, here is the war-horse, all ready for battle, even after last year’s angioplasty! For this new exhibition of 22 large works (2×2 feet) and 10 smaller works (1×1 foot), he has over the last one year painstakingly created a series of sculptural works that hark back to his younger days of vigorous and violent blow-torch experiments. Moreover, this is the first time that he has used stainless steel with wood to create what he calls “mirrors of life”. Says Jeram Patel, “I had experimented with the blowtorch in the 1960s, and then completely gave it up because I wanted to concentrate on paper works. I am revisiting that phase because my friends persuaded me. Besides, I wanted to see if I still had it in me.”

Steel was not the first choice though. Jeram Patel started with bronze, which gave way to aluminum and finally chose steel for its “tenacity and smoothness”. His innovative approach in handling wood as a material with technological interventions such as blow torch and enamel has enabled him to create significant works at Asit Shah’s Baroda-based industrial unit.

Finding material was easy, what with mechanical engineer turned art collector Asit Shah’s resourceful help, but the process wasn’t. Jeram Patel first made a number of detailed sketches for each work, finalizing the kind of effect and form that he wanted. Asit Shah’s carpenters meanwhile prepared the layered plywood ‘boxes’ chiseling them as per the artist’s specifications. Jeram Patel then transferred his sketches on the box surface with the help of chalk-sticks. By fitting the plywood sheets on top of one another, he has burnt some part of the ‘amalgamated’ wood, and literally nailed it here and there, adding some colours and fevicol also in some areas. The burnt out parts looks engraved and the un-burnt surfaces of the wood creates an enchanting, contrasting environ on the pictorial space. The burnt out areas in these works are marked with lines as well.

Once the work was done, the entire box was covered with stainless sheets and where they neared edges of the gouged out form, the profiling was done in such a way that the metal merged with the wood. By increasing the thickness of the works considerably, the works not only gives a more distinctly sculpturesque look but they also look stunning with the smooth, reflective silver-grey of the steel contrasting dramatically with the coarser textures and scarred grains of the exposed blow-torched plywood, with several shades of brown layers. One can see one’s reflection, slightly distorted but shining back from the smooth stainless steel plates that cover the wood-based work exposing the gouged out abstract forms.

Steel may be new to the soft-spoken and versatile artist, but abstraction is certainly not. Born in 1930 at Sojitra, Kaira district of Gujarat, Jeram Patel’s abstract work in black and grey have always made strong gestural statements with expressionistic overtones. Living and working in Vadodara since the time he studied drawing and painting at Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai and then typography and publicity design at the Central School of Arts and Craft in London, abstraction remains his signature style.

His canvases, paper works and sculptures contain floating black masses in consolidated bodies that seem to hang weightlessly amidst supernatural forces. The forms they acquire loom large but never overwhelming over the white space of the paper or canvas on which he paints, or the wood he sculpts, so thoughtfully does he condense the mass into a definable shape. The raw energy of the concentrated form appears ready to burst and explode any moment. There are other occasional hints of transparent colours – green or yellow or blue adding to the work’s visual impact. “I wanted to add an extra element that will give a tactile feel to my works, in addition to the blow-torch gouging and painting. So when Asit Shah suggested mirror-polished stainless steel that had an additional component of reflection, I decided to give it a try,” says the veteran artist.

As against Jeram Patel’s 1960s experiments with creating paintings that used neither canvas nor paint, or paper and pen, this time he utilizes a sculptor’s medium like wood and tools such as chisels, cutters and the blow-torch, but still his present work retains to have a certain dream-like quality. The abstract forms appear to be amoeba-like forms swimming, swirling, throbbing and floating in space, transcending the act of violence that created them. Some works mounted here have motif-like forms, which have appeared in Jeram Patel’s work for the first time – forms akin to the form of a bird, an arrow, half-moon, a flower, a plate, lips, butterfly and serpent to name a few. One is also reminded of mountainous ranges and a river flowing through them. The winding and unwinding paths, the zig-zag lines, gullies with round engraved forms, surrounded by the shiny steel-sheets also create an enchanting landscape. Jeram Patel’s brush strokes of coiled movements, serpentine, reptilian postures hint at calligraphic and primordial settings. His strokes are energized and have upward surges, similar to the energy of Ramkinkar Baij’s sculptures. It is this energy which holds the form together; the tension preventing it from falling apart. The feeling that each work is inundated with several engraved forms (bearing dozens of lines) and is marked with tinges of orange, mustard, purple, is overpowering in its simplicity, and this becomes the hallmark of these creations. The works are simple, direct, in their bare minimum entities, yet are multifarious in their visual appeal and intent. His preoccupation with black and white drawings, done in small and large format for almost four decades, has also perhaps got itself sculpted, in these works, with a fresh vibrancy.

As Jeram Patel pauses and waits for the viewers’ response when the show opens in February in Delhi, he is already thinking of his next project. “The new work will be 4 to 4.5 inches thick and maybe I’ll also use colour,” he says with a twinkle in his eye, ’but once this show is over in February, I might take a holiday before beginning work on that project!"

ABOUT THE ARTIST:

A founder member of the much talked about rebellious group called GROUP 1890, he is one of the revolutionary artists of post colonial India, acknowledged for his salutary influence on approaching art through abstraction and as an institution builder, who alongside NS Bendre and Sankho Chowdhuri set up the Baroda School of Art, where he taught until recently. Representing India at the Tokyo Biennale of 1963, the Sao Paulo Biennale of 1963, the Third World Biennale at Baghdad in 1980 and the Festival of India, London, in 1982, his works are featured in many prestigious collections including those at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Lalit Kala Akademi, Dhoomimal Gallery (New Delhi), Museum of Chennai Art (Baghdad), Chandigarh University, Society of India, Museum of Fine Arts (Bhopal). He has also been associated with various organizations including the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, the Gujarat State Lalit Kala Akademi, the Royal Society of Arts, London, the School of Architecture, Ahmedabad and the Weavers’ Service Centre, All-India Handloom Board, New Delhi. A recipient of the National Award from the Lalit Kala Akademi in 1957, 1963, 1973 and 1984 and National Award for Design in 1976, he has also won a silver medal from the Bombay Art Society in 1960. In 1994 he was awarded Emeritus Fellowship from the government of India.