As part of a celebration of 100 Years of Indian Cinema, a special Satyajit Ray season is running for two months at the BFI on London’s Southbank. Alongside this, an exhibition of innovative film posters designed by Ray will be on show to accompany the retrospective of films…
Before discovering filmmaking, Ray trained and worked as a graphic designer, and even after picking up the camera, he continued to create set, costume and poster designs for many of his own films.
He originally studied for a fine art degree, which he abandoned for a job as a commercial artist in advertising. He joined British-run ad agency DJ Keymer as a junior visualiser, where he stayed for thirteen years, designing typefaces, illustrating book covers, and creating many imaginative ad campaigns.
As a filmmaker, Ray was self-taught, with his love of film leading him to co-found Calcutta’s first film society in 1947, going on to write and publish articles on cinema.
He was drawn further into filmmaking after working with Jean Renoir location hunting in Calcutta for The River. Renoir encouraged Ray to turn his ideas for Pather Panchali (Song of the Litte Road) into a reality, which is often acknowledged as one of world cinema’s great directorial debuts.
The exhibition will draw on the collections of the BFI National Archive and the Satyajit Ray Society, Kolkata, and will showcase the best of Ray’s graphic work, including both originals and reproductions.
Ray’s posters were far more than just eye-catching film advertisements, with each offering his own interpretation of the film, often distilling themes and moods into one single image.
His graphic style found influences from both Indian art and folklore and Western traditions, with designs including unusual photographic collages, hand drawn motifs and typographic experiments.
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