From India With Love

Lakshmi Menon by Prabuddha Dasgupta

In ancient times, India was a place where sensuality was unashamedly celebrated. Traditional Hindu culture saw aesthetic and physical pleasure as one of the main goals of life, giving rise to the Kama Sutra and the intricate erotic sculptures of the medieval temples at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh. For the last few hundred years, the country has had a more conservative outlook, but as Western influences gradually take hold in this rapidly changing society, clothes are coming off in contemporary Indian art. Photographer Prabuddha Dasgupta—who counts Louis Vuitton among his commercial clients and is a regular contributor to Indian Vogue—is among those who have broken India’s taboos, shocking and inspiring with the publication of his book of nudes, Women, in 1996. For the past seven years, his muse has been his partner, Lakshmi Menon, who is arguably the biggest model to ever come out of southeast Asia, gracing the runways of major fashion designers such as Jean Paul GaultierStella McCartney and Givenchy, as well as starring in campaigns for Hermès and appearing in editorials for V, L’Officiel India and Vogue. “There must have been some kind of spark that shot out from those black and white images on my computer screen that hit me,” muses the photographer of the first pictures he ever saw of his long-term love. This series of intimate portraits reflects the geographical expanse of their relationship, from their home in Goa to the white sands of the Maldives where they retreat to relax. Menon says of their photographic dialogue: “It’s very private, but it’s just a part of our lives. It’s something I don’t think about anymore because it comes very naturally to us both.”
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