Elisabeth Skidmore Sasser
Professor Emeritus to The College of Architecture
Texas Tech University,
Jean Verame : Man of action, Man of contemplation, Man of peace.
It is the desert, its silence, its sheer cliffs and rocks, its tent of blue sky that calls to Jean Verame, visionary artist. He answers by creating archetypal mysteries with colors spread on rock formations and escarpments in arids an lonely lanscapes : in the mountainous Tibesti desert of northwestern Chad ; in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco near Tafraoute ; on a desolate plateau of the Sïnaï.The lifeless landscape of the Sïnaïs Hallawi Plateau over which a few years earlier tanks had rolled in battle formation was animated by deep blues, flares of red like Mosesburning bush, and black as impenetrable as the curtain covering Islams sacred Kabah. Thus transformed in 1980- 1981 by Jean Verames colors and glyphic signs, the hostile environment was given the title " Sïnaï Peace Junction "
Following the cessation of fighting in war-ravaged Chad, the artist sought out the Tibesti region where sphinx-like rocks had been carved millenia ealier by streams that once flowed where today there is nothing but sand and stones. Here, from March to June 1989, Jean Verame and his assistants, disregarding still-active mine fields and surveillance planes flying overhead, painted twenty-nine groups of rocks with brilliant blues, red, violet, black, and white.
The artist is painter, sculptor, and one ascomplished in the field of graphicd, a man who works with equal ease on a small scale or at grabd proportions. But it is evident that the paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures all reinforce the multidimensional vision which Jean verame carries from him in the solitude of the desert. All are parts of the whole. The canvas reveals the colored peaks and stones of a universal lanscape lying at the heart of the artists earth art, while the cascading pieces appear linked with the symbols painted on the Tibesti rocks.
The art of Jean verame is powerful ; the brilliantly colored rocks release a potent magic. Just as neolithic man painted energy-charged animals and sorcerers in the darkness of almost inaccessible caves, thus renewing the life force of the animal kingdom to make mankinds existence possible, Jean Verame is attracted to difficult and uninhabited regions. He has no wish to attract crowds of onlookers ; it is through meditation in lonely places that the notion of the sacred landscape can exert its magnetism and healing.
The question arises, " How does the artist select those locations where he wishes to create his surreal scenes ? "To this, Jean verame answers that after days of traveling under difficult conditions, driving on unpaved trails in the blistering heat, suddenly the spot that awaits the artist is there. " it makes itself known. It is the site that conditions the work that follows ". For the artist, the desert holds a part of the " mythology of humanity ". For him, his desert transformations are a " religious act, but with no attchment to any one religion ", rather they are " a meditation or a theme of meditation ". In these metamorphoses, the painter remains outside of the conventional world of museums and art galleries. He turns in upon himself like those hermits who sought spiritual inspiration in desert caves far from civilization. As Jean Verame phrases it, " in the desert it is necessary to devest oneself of all cultural baggage one is freed from all certainties, from all intellectual clichés " There in the silence and the sun, surrounded by stones that have witnessed time in the sense of Buddhist kalpas, the artist says, " I am the medium between the paint and the rocks. Each peak has is own life, its proper vibration ".
But beyond the personal communication of painter with the enduring cliffs and pebbled sand, there is always present the concept of peace between poeples and nations.
The silent music, magic, and shamanic intuition of Jean Verame s art have the compelling strength to touch and reawaken the " living earth spirit ", the strength that may help to rehabilitate the unity of humans with their fellow beings and with the more end more fragile environment.
PS : Jean Veram trew 1 000 bronzes in the Sahara desert in 1996.