This month’s Artist Profile focuses on Sunil Gupta, one of the featured artists in the Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme exhibition Captured Beauty, currently on view at Newlyn Art Gallery in Cornwall.
Sunil Gupta presents his broad oeuvre as a reflection of his own identity and lived experiences. Themes like diaspora, race, homosexuality and HIV are at the core of his powerful photographs.
Born in New Delhi in 1953, he migrated to Canada with his family at the age of fifteen. He studied photography at the New York School for Social Research and later at the Royal College of Art in London. His first pictures were taken around Christopher Street in Manhattan in 1976, where he used his camera as a tool for open expression, capturing both the openness of the gay liberation movement as well as his own ‘coming out’ as an artist.
In 1986, Gupta returned to India to produce Exiles, commissioned by The Photographers' Gallery in London. In this series, he photographed gay men in front of emblematic tourist sites in New Delhi, capturing intimate portraits in open, public spaces.
Through this project, Gupta aimed to give visibility to the Indian gay community at a time when homosexuality was highly stigmatised and still criminalised in India, revealing the tensions between tradition and modernity.