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Gupta, Sunil (b. 1953)  
 
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In this regard, one can note, for example, Untitled no. 12, evidently based on Millais's Saint Stephen (1895, Tate Collection). Millais depicts the martyred saint lying on the ground, surrounded by the stones that killed him. The saint's twisted limbs, anguished expression, and blood-spattered robes powerfully evoke his suffering.

Although the direction of the saint's body has been reversed, the pose of the figure in Gupta's photograph replicates the positioning of Millais's saint. The open black shirt in Gupta's photograph directly recalls the placement of the outer robe around Millais's saint. However, the shirt of the man in Gupta's photograph opens to reveal beautiful, glowing flesh, rather than bloodied, torn vestments.

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Moreover, golden light infuses Gupta's image, intensifying the mood of sensuality. It is evident that in Gupta's photograph, the subject's "death" is the languid repose following intense lovemaking.

In Untitled no. 7, Gupta similarly transforms Henry Wallis's dark painting of the tragic death of Thomas Chatterton (1856, Tate Collection) into a sensual image, suffused with soft light, of a beautiful young man lying on a bed in an apartment.

In The New Pre-Raphaelites and other projects in India, Gupta has revealed a commitment to a broader range of gender and sexual issues than in most of the projects that he undertook in the United Kingdom.

In interviews, he has emphasized that he has found that there is a "greater fluidity across gender and LGBT boundaries" in India than in the West.

This fluidity is emphasized in such photographs as Untitled no. 6, in which Gupta envisions strong lesbian women living independently of the patriarchy.

Untitled no. 6 is obviously based on Millais's painting Mariana (1851), which was originally exhibited with lines from Tennyson's poem "Mariana," conveying the dreariness of the young woman's life after she was rejected by her fiancé. In Millais's painting, the sorrowful facial expression, tired pose, fallen leaves, and somber colors are among the features that complement the mood of despair in Tennyson's poem.

Although loosely replicating the pose of Millais's figure, Gupta makes several changes from the original, which enable him to convey a sense of happiness and empowerment rather than the hopelessness of Millais's painting. For example, the barefooted woman in Gupta's photograph stands on tiptoes, and she exposes her strong arms and shoulders; and a brightly painted stage set replaces the beautifully detailed, but gloomy room in Millais's painting. This photograph exemplifies the aspiration to a better life for queer people in India that motivated the entire series.

Love Undetectable

The ongoing series of photographs, Love Undetectable (begun 2009) is much more loosely structured than other recent projects. In both Mr. Malhotra's Party and The New Pre-Raphaelites, Gupta presents his subject matter--whether confident portraits or fanciful recreations of Victorian imagery--in relatively consistent ways throughout the series. Moreover, although multi-layered in their meanings, the significant themes of these series can be discovered by viewers comparatively easily.

On first inspection, however, Love Undetectable seems to defy any clear narrative interpretation. The project consists of a heterogeneous collection of diverse images, including facial portraits, glimpses of body parts of single individuals and couples (both nude and clothed), scenes of gay male and lesbian couples in a variety of interior and exterior settings, among other components.

But the initial problem with detecting the intent of the series ultimately enables the viewer to develop a more profound understanding of the subject indicated in the title. Love may seem undetectable to those who are unaware of it and who do not wish to acknowledge it. Yet love is there to be detected by those who are willing to open themselves to it.

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