A strong atavistic current runs in a plenary manner through the drives of man, basically a creature of hard won evolutionary trends. These wicked histories in contrast to the pure space of the truly ideational burn into the work of Jeram Patel. How does such an artist express himself? This timely regret of the entities of the body of man, shown in miniature, fragmented into tendon, lying as naked bone, sprouting brush -- the old comfortable unregenerate nature -- decay of the living dead of animal man -- unimpeachable in the monolith structure, not prepared to move as the dinosaur and fossil memory, therefore breaking his hind leg perforce into the mire, can’t be helped.
This warm mammal feeding nothing, for that is the reason of the floating breast, this sexuality with its enlarging euphoria, as bloody as any murder, as tragic in its universal presence as genocide - represented by sperm balloon and snake like libido, a snake curiously anatomical like spilling guts: all these futile excesses of man are transformed by a patient discipline of size and spacing, of modest stresses and realistic hatching without an eye for dramatic effect (the bane of all drawing, the other is whimsy) - into a panoramic view of this stale universe, emblazoned by the rush of space, inexorably adjusting this infamous army of violence done on man. Hence the space where is lies between the objects, serial, ordered, for true disorder shines a molten white and pours as a stream by the incredible cold clod continent of still unconscious humanity. In this didactic the poetic awareness is so just as not to obtrude, the flesh never lies bleeding begging occult favour - the mystical is the ascetic, wary of pounding the mass evidence of beloved islanded solemnity of life as it is. It offers only a concentration of the brave over the comfortable, the slow over the hasty - a small secret bower of the heart where a flower and a temple may exist. And so indeed it does in these honest paintings. The sun also floods some of his work a sure optimism of being gracious and bland, and meets below with deep weight of red that absorbs this prayerful power, once it retires and leaves the earth to itself. A great sense of freedom informs all the work of Jeram. All exists, all receives. No decisions are made. Such an end would be moral and historical. It would hardly belong to the large cover of space that his work intends which has for its scientific corollary therefore a much larger, truly unending sense of Time.
Many drawings concern themselves with the discerning eye of this animal creature man. Perhaps it is his best jewel, his saving grace…. The true artist struggles for a calm conviction within and suffuses his work with the integrity of placement. For it is indeed fated that inspiration is increasingly private but nevertheless it emerges fateful, industrious with a recompense for the viewer - in a series of many devices. Hence the art historian’s periods.
To align according to the methods used to espy out the inner landscape of painting, for all thought is figurative, all expression semantic. The in-stress seeks to blend with the exterior or objects used; canvas, paint, colours and metal approximations in colour, nails, wood; blow torch, paper, ink, pen, brush, fevicol, knife -- all have been used by Jeram. In shapes, the sperm, the ovum, the womb, the gourd, the serpent, the brush-like foliage, the runt-like tail. The separate island of existence with scant trails leading out benignly cellular with a single nucleus, the bija of dynamics in large space, the mask of primitive atavistic culture, the eagle, the predatory bird, or flying vagina taking the shape of a bird. The measurements of planning, devastating in their prettiness and prescribed circumferences, cross-sections neatly noted, the gun and rifle for common blasts and identifiable violence -- the world is so much with us.
Jeram’s art is ageless and contemplative. He says if a thing be said in paint, voice, word, music, it must have grace, dignity and purity -- a carefully defined path, occasioning illuminations, otherwise all is without sense -- abuse. His work shows any area of living art overwhelming him. It is not sensual, not even sensuous, not sentient, not even dead. It is an area of jealously preserved living. It is not flamboyant nor whimsical for it strikes no attitudes. It is beyond caricature which most critical art assumes. It is dogged to the death of all that exists, sat the great truth of the ancients and the modern, it surmises scientifically the cit or consciousness, that lays no blame, again old and rediscovered for us Western thinkers - but of ananda who shall speak.
Jeram said one who ‘tries’ to create will always be destroyed - one can only ‘experience’. Hence the many artists whom he has influenced stand futile by comparison as honest travellers who have succumbed to the image and hasten its exhaustion. He lives unfloundered in the heart of destruction. It is this I see in the sun spots of his blow torch, or in his nails crowning this vortex, a crucifixion safely beyond the dream and lyric flight, safe in its interludes of discovery of layer after layer of the true and therefore unerring subconscious.
When he says of his work, paralleling the Vietnam war that the pistol and gun grow like the nature of violence over the field of petty wrong, he reduces the terror. And the terrible becomes so old sprouting vegetation in its fixed stance, therefore eloquent of replacement -- hence the illustration is a masterpiece.
Of his latest drawings conceived at the time of the violence in Gujarat where there was such anonymous death he says that all those small fragmented bones and flesh all that unpremeditated sacrifice before premeditated violence of unthinking bombardment. His drawings are not pathetic sorry things but are fresh and thrown high above in bird flight for all time.
For that which is fresh has growth on its visage as it careers into the larger universe it lives, who then will not communicate with this art. Its abstraction is by will and discipline by the concord and peace of spaces. It is sagacious and witty and forgiving. Such art is not popular, it may not be, but it is preserved in the fellowship of understanding which critics have always given to both the man and his work.
Published in Lalit Kala Contemporary, 1975