East Meets West: Two Sunil Gupta Exhibitions At Belfast Exposed Gallery

By Katie Millis | 14 February 2007
A man in a red turban sits next to a women in a head-dress on a bench looking at an Indian building

Sunil Gupta's photography is both political and intimate © Sunil Gupta.

Belfast Exposed is holding two exhibitions by Indian photographer, Sunil Gupta until 23 March 2007. Gupta’s autobiographical photography is known for being political and intimate and these exhibitions explore issues of race and homosexuality.

The New Delhi-born artist emigrated to Montreal as a teenager and studied photography at New York’s New School in the 1970s. Dividing his time between London and Delhi he has since established himself as an artist and photographer.

Gupta’s images traditionally document his own feelings of living as a gay Indian man in Europe, existing between the different cultures of Eastern and Western society.

Two photographs one of an Indian building one of a wall of pictures

The Homelands series was inspired by where the artist lived © Sunil Gupta.

The Homelands (2001-2003) exhibition was produced when the artist was based at the University of Southampton. Gupta kept in mind his own HIV virus and all the different places he had inhabited when he created what he describes as diptychs.

According to Gupta his "initial experiments in binary oppositions - the West versus India, inside versus outside," seemed formulaic. Thus his East/West theme has continued but with the addition of other parameters that make the work more ‘spontaneous and intuitive’.

As a photographer, he is now interested in reflecting a sense of the landscape of the different worlds he once lived in: India, Montreal, New York and London.

Two photographs one of an Indian building one of a western cityscape

Gupta creates colourful imagery against Western cityscapes © Sunil Gupta.

His images are an analysis of the photographic struggle he encountered in his attempt to visualise complex relationships and identities that lie beneath the surface of Eastern and Western landscapes. They are colourful reflections of landscapes and cityscapes.

Tales of a City (2004) was created as part of the artist’s research into a number of historical Delhi sites. These include The Red Fort, the Roshanara Gardens, Shahjahanabad (now called Old Delhi) and Jahanara’s Tomb – Nizamuddin.

An image of a cream Indian building with palm trees in the forefront

Tale of a City is one of the two exhibitions being shown © Sunil Gupta.

He has focussed on a period in time 1638-1739 when Delhi was rebuilt as Shahjahanabad by Shahjahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal. The city was burned at the end of this period and the photographs act as a critical documentary of the contemporary functions these sites now have as tourist and leisure phenomena.

In 1988 Gupta co-founded Autograph: the Association of Black Photographers, a publicly funded coalition of photographers of African and Asian descent.

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