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The Ryerson Image Centre reopens with retrospective of acclaimed artist Sunil Gupta

The centre is welcoming back visitors on Wednesday with some incredible new exhibitions
By: Irina Vukosavic
March 31, 2022
Shirtless men sitting at a bar.

A retrospective by acclaimed photographer Sunil Gupta will open on April 6. Sunil Gupta, #7, from Sun City, 2010 (printed 2011), inkjet print. Courtesy the artist and Hales Gallery, London and New York; Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto; and Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi. © Sunil Gupta. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2022.

Thinking of staying inside to avoid the snow and subzero temperatures? You could do that or you could check out the new exhibitions at the Ryerson Image Centre. Starting April 6, the RIC will be reopening its galleries for an extended spring/summer season! 

On view until August 6 are From Here to Eternity. Sunil Gupta, A Retrospective, external link; Mauvais Genre/Under Cover: A Secret History of Cross-Dressers, external link; and Dominique Blain: Dérive/Drift, external link. There will also be three student exhibitions taking place over the spring and summer: Chris Donovan: The Cloud Factory, external link, Heather Rattray: Things That I Know, Things That You Know, external link, and Red All Over: World War II Press Photographs From the Sovfoto Agency, external link.

Keep reading for a sneak peek of some of the art and photography that will be on display. Also make sure to visit the RIC website, external link to see the rest of the upcoming shows, external link, events, external link and COVID-19 visitor protocol, external link

Artist Sunil Gupta’s career-spanning retrospective 

Man in t-shirt and jeans crossing busy intersection.

Sunil Gupta, Untitled #22, from Christopher Street, 1976 (printed 2014), pigment print. Courtesy the artist and Hales Gallery, London and New York; Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto; and Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi. © Sunil Gupta. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2022.

This spring, the RIC will mount an extensive retrospective by acclaimed photographer Sunil Gupta, whose autobiographical narratives capture his experiences as a gay man of colour living with HIV in Canada, the U.S., England and his birthplace, India. Sharing works from the 1970s to 2010s, From Here to Eternity: Sunil Gupta, A Retrospective, external link invites viewers to think critically about the relationship between identity, representation, bodies, and freedoms. The exhibition is on view  in the Main Gallery. 

Two people sitting together cross legged.

Sunil Gupta, The Party, from Exiles, 1986 (printed 2015), pigment print. Courtesy the artist and Hales Gallery, London and New York; Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto; and Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi. © Sunil Gupta. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2022.

The retrospective asserts the historically absent representations of pleasure, queer sexuality and bodies of colour upon the viewer. The distinct promiscuity of Gupta’s photographic style is represented in the retrospective, bringing together works from his diverse series, including street photography, narrative portraiture, using text as a graphic element, staged and constructed scenes and early ventures into digital image making.

French curator dives into a secret history of cross-dressers

Man wearing red lipstick and blue eyeshadow in portrait.

Unidentified photographer, [Man in make-up wearing a woman’s ring, United States], ca. 1920, gelatin silver (photobooth) print with colour retouching © 2016 Éditions Textuel – Collection Sébastien Lifshitz.

Comprising over 160 amateur photographs, this exhibition, external link explores a range of practices relating to cross-dressing from the 1880s to the 1980s. It is drawn from the extensive personal archives of French documentary filmmaker and photography collector Sébastien Lifshitz. The selection includes images of spectacular cross-dressers and glamorous drag queens, but also individuals whose transgressive actions are much more discreet and domestic. 

Two people with trees in the background in sepia tone.

Unidentified photographer, [Prisoners of war in the German camp of Königsbrück, with written inscription on verso “Kriegsgefangenen Sendung (Prisoners of War Show)”], ca. 1915, gelatin silver print on postcard © 2016 Éditions Textuel – Collection Sébastien Lifshitz.

Made by mostly unknown photographers, the prints are of unnamed and unknown figures posing for the camera, using the apparel and gestures traditionally assigned to the “opposite sex.” They have been collected from flea markets, garage sales, junk shops and eBay and were taken in Europe and the United States. The exhibition will be on view in the University Gallery. 

Montreal artist commemorates immigrant journey with multi-channel video

Screenshot from Dominique Blain’s multi-channel video.

Dominique Blain, Dérive/Drift (detail), 2019, multi-channel video. Courtesy of the artist.

Sensitive, powerful, and supremely delicate, Dominique Blain’s Dérive/Drift, external link comprises hundreds of press and amateur images of the sea. Found on the internet and compiled in careful layers, these images gently lift like sails in the breeze to reveal scenes of fragile, makeshift boats floating on perilous waters. 

This multi-channel video commemorates the countless migrants who flee situations of war, poverty, and violence, sailing in search of freedom. It will be shown on the Salah J. Bachir New Media Wall.

Student Gallery presents new work from talented up and coming artists

Also opening on April 6 in the RIC Student Gallery is Red All Over: World War II Press Photographs From the Sovfoto Agency, external link, an exhibition of over 60 press photographs made in the USSR and Eastern Europe between 1939 to 1945. Later in the season, two additional exhibitions will be on view including Chris Donovan: The Cloud Factory, external link, presented in conjunction with the multi-arts, multi-media festival, DocNow; Heather Rattray: Things That I Know, Things That You Know, external link, an exhibition documenting a mother-daughter duo’s desire to connect with familial roots through the learning and re-learning of their mother-tongue.

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