Shyamal Dutta Ray


Old Memories



“The name of Shyamal Dutta Ray will always be written in glowing letters. His paintings can be rightly called a well-integrated contrapuntal music of contrasting dream and reality.”

Mrinal Ghosh, art writer


The poignant imagery in Shyamal Dutta Ray’s paintings stem from his personal experiences and his canvases reflect his attempts to render the complex visual world around him. Melancholic and pensive, the works reveals the contradictions of life in Kolkata during his life, illuminating the happiness, sorrow, struggle, strife, poverty and hope of the city. They are surreal, ironic, unsparing, depicting a society in transition.   

Dutta Ray was born in Bihar in 1934 and studied at the Government School of Arts and Crafts in Kolkata from 1950-1955. A founding member of the famed Society of Contemporary Artists, he is credited with having added an unprecedented depth and intensity to watercolor as a medium. He used saturated hues that stood out against the diluted colors preferred by other members of the Bengal School of art, of which he was a part; it was a major turning point in the School’s history.

His technique and his pathos earned him many solo and group shows throughout his career including exhibitions in East Germany, Mumbai, the United States, Poland, Australia, Algiers, London, Paris and Havana. While he lived, he was honored in 1982 with the Lalit Kala Akademi National Award, and he received Birla Academy awards in 1972, 1973, 1975 and 1978.

The artist passed away in 2005, but his work has continued to be posthumously exhibited. From 2006 to 2008, he was featured in two shows at Aicon Gallery, in New York.  


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Works by Shyamal Dutta Ray

Specialists in South Asian Modern+Contemporary Art at Christie's

  • Sonal Singh

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