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Jeram Patel

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1930, Sojitra, Kaira District, Gujarat, India

Died 2016, Vadodara, India
Lived and worked in Baroda, Gujarat, India

A veteran artist based in Baroda, Jeram Patel was one of the foremost names on the Indian art scene that formulated a new visual identity and method of abstraction. He was the founder member of the short-lived artist's collective group 1890 and represented India at several international festivals. His canvases, paper works and sculptures contain floating black strokes and masses in consolidated form that seem to hang weightlessly amidst supernatural forces.



National Diploma in Design, Central School of Art and Craft, London


Sir J. J School of Art, Mumbai

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Patel contributed towards development of biomorphic abstraction in the Indian context

Jeram Patel's abstract works have always made strong gestural remark with expressionist overtones. His works are a representation of the forms that are an echo of terrains created by nature, reminiscent of the gorges of ancient rivers, of howling winds and passing time. Not totally abstract and figurative, there are no direct references but yet everything that one observes subconsciously is revealed on the canvas which is mysteriously identifiable. His black and white creations drop hints at raw energy that's about to explode with violence and mayhem.

Jeram Patel, Untitled, blow torch on wood, 12 x 12 x 2”

He carved out an unconventional method of expression using wood and blowtorch

In 1960s, Jeram Patel's experimented with creating paintings that used neither canvas nor paint, or pen and paper. He utilized a sculptor's medium like wood and tools such as chisels, cutters, and the blow torch to create consolidated abstract forms.

He created thick layers of pasted-together plywood, scratched open by a blowtorch, thus creating visually strong images of scarring and torment, further stiffened by hammering strips of crumbled metal sheets and nails. He used the blowtorch to cut through the layers of plywood along the abstract forms chalked out on the top sheet, blackening the torn edges with soot that was cleaned off with a wire brush, leaving them raw and ragged.

Jeram Patel, Untitled, 2004, enamel and blowtorch wood, 60.2 x 60.2 cm

His wood and blowtorch works take a new direction

 “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”. At the age of 78 he took an opportunity to redefine his own oeuvre.  Although he initially started with bronze, which gave way to aluminium and he finally chose steel for its strength and smoothness.

With his innovative approach of combining the metal with burnt wood, he created what he called “mirrors of life”. These mirror sculptures are mirror-like stainless steel plates that have been inset with wood. The wooden pieces that have been gouged out with blowtorch to create abstract forms can be hung like paintings.


Jeram Patel, Untitled, blow torch on wood and stainless steel

His paintings exploit the latent potential of juxtaposing black & white

By using black and white colour in his abstract forms, he hints at no real or fathomable form as such. In fact, Black is itself symbolic, of strength, power, a certain kind of raw energy, as well as violence, the dark forces of the evil, negativity. It negates all other colours but coordinates with other colours very well too. It generates that vibrancy and energy thus becoming an equivocal symbol that can be interpreted whichever way the viewer wants it to.

Although there have been occasional hints of transparent colours - green, yellow or blue adding to the work's visual impact, black remains the star colour in his artwork.

Jeram Patel, Untitled, 2006, chinese ink on paper, 22 x 30”