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Ranen Ayan Dutt: Painter, Illustrator, Muralist, Graphic Artist (24.11.1927 – 03.03.2024)

Ranen Ayan Dutt, an eminent painter and illustrator, who had paintings, murals, graphics and architecture to his credit, breathed his last on 3.3.24, Sunday, night.
Ranen Ayan Dutt
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Artist Ranen Ayan Dutt, an eminent painter and an illustrator, who had paintings, murals, graphics and architecture to his credit, breathed his last on 3.3.24, Sunday, night. 

Dutt's work was influenced by Abanindranath Tagore and Jamini Roy
Dutt's work was influenced by Abanindranath Tagore and Jamini Roy

His childhood was spent in pre-partition Bangladesh, where the young Dutt sustained his passion and talent through scholarships and a deep influence of Abanindranath Tagore and Jamini Roy. His passion was further enriched and nurtured by the renowned commercial artist Annada Munshi, the man who gave the world Satyajit Ray – the illustrator. Munshi selected Dutt, fresh out of Government College of Art and Craft, Kolkata, with a distinction of First Class First in Fine Arts.

Dutt's work was influenced by Abanindranath Tagore and Jamini Roy
Dutt's work was influenced by Abanindranath Tagore and Jamini Roy

Soon after, he was absorbed by Stronachs India as the Art Director in Mumbai.

On his return to Calcutta, he became the Chief Art Director of J Walter Thompson and had a remarkable stint in advertising spanning 20 years. During this period, he did creative works for ICI, Philips, GKW, Air India and Chloride. Dutt also created the first visualisation of ‘Made for Each Other’ campaign.

Dutt was a rage for the wonderful promotional material he created for products such as Jabakusum hair oil and Shalimar, along with book covers. He had also created the poster of Tapan Sinha’s film ‘Kabuliwala’.

In 1974, he started his own company – RAD Associates, that transgressed various mediums of art – from paintings to exhibition works to museums. A number of museums like the SBI Archives, the Earth Science Museum, the Shipping Transport Museum (the first floating museum on the Ganges), the Steel Museum in Durgapur were designed by him. Most of his exhibition works won the first prize or gold medal.

Soon, from the canvas his art shifted to architecture. Dutt’s pavilions and murals for Tata Steel, Tea Board and Steel Authority of India’s earned accolades globally and some like the Bengal pavilion, have become permanent structures in the capital. Landmarks like the Air India building, Exide Industries and the Indian Institute of Coal Management have been shaped by Dutt’s aesthetics. ‘What memory is to man, archive is to mankind’, states the State Bank of India (SBI) archival museum website.

Dutt created an idiom which can act as a periscope for our lives
Dutt created an idiom which can act as a periscope for our lives

Be it a significant part of the financial history of the country through the SBI or the lives of luminaries like  Raja Rammohan Roy, Dutt created archives which are an interesting confluence of history, art and architecture.

Dutt was awarded D. Litt by Rabindra Bharati University in 1999 for his excellence in Applied Art.

Blurring divisions between commercial and fine art, clutter and space, private vision and public memories, Dutt created an idiom which can act as a periscope for our lives.

Images of Ranen Ayan Dutt along with information: Sanjeet Chowdhury

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