Legendary photographer Sunil Gupta returns to Delhi, his hometown, to document the history and heritage of his gay community, after pursuing a career in documenting LGBTQ life and culture in New York, Paris and London.
After a career in documenting LGBTQ life and culture in New York, Paris and London, legendary photographer Sunil Gupta returned to his hometown of Delhi to document the history and heritage of his gay community. For Gupta, who left the city for Canada at the age of 15, the experience is as much about rediscovering and documenting as he explores some of the city’s landmarks with new eyes.
A walk through the Mehrauli Ancient Park in New Delhi reveals an early 16th-century tomb with the sacred Sufi body of Sheikh Jamali Kambooh. But unlike most ancient Sufi tombs, in this one the lover is a man next to the saints – known as Kamali. “As a sacred site that promotes homosexual love, Jamali Kamali’s tomb has a special place in the eyes of the LGBT community in New Delhi,” said Sunil Gupta, a contemporary Indian artist.
Born in Delhi, the photographer captures the hidden yet vital aspects of different cities around the world through exotic lenses: 2010 City of the Sun This series depicts the underground world of a gay sauna in Paris, while Christopher Street 1976 Captured by men traveling the streets of New York for sex. In works such as Tales of a City, Gupta turns his camera to his native Delhi.
Although Gupta moved to Canada with his family at the age of 15, his relationship with Delhi did not end there. “It was only when I came to Canada that I realized how different Delhi was,” he said. It has been 10 years since he returned to the Indian capital, this time as a returning artist. In 2005 he returned, staying for seven years. Delhi is where Gupta has some of his most important works, such as Before the New Raphael, Opposition and Delhi: Belonging Communities.
Gupta uses the Vedra Art Gallery, the KOOJ International Artists’ Association and the Rare Crane Art Museum among Delhi’s top contemporary art photographs. But even though he is a visual artist, the films were what sparked his creative imagination as a boy. “Those giant movie theaters were interesting places for me – I could stay out of them forever and look at the pictures.” So it was with sadness that he and his other bizarre creations in 2016, after 85 years of service, saw Regal close in 2016. A multiplex is about to open in its place.