Paul Mpagi Sepuya

b. 1982, San Bernardino, California. He lives and works in Los Angeles


Paul Mpagi Sepuya
Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Darkroom Mirror (0X5A0752). Photo: Ben Westoby


American photographer Paul Mpagi Sepuya focusses on the relationship between the subject and the camera. The works are artificial and highly constructed, with Sepuya placing himself and his camera in the centre of his portraits. Through revealing his own tools and studio, the artist deconstructs the mechanics of image-making and foregrounds the constant negotiation between the artist, the sitter, the viewer, and the work itself.

The artist uses mirrors, draped fabrics, and collages of past work to manipulate the perspective throughout his frames. He embraces the human element of photography; the fingerprints, dust, and smudges still visible on the mirror’s surface.

His cast of models consists of his friends, acquaintances, or collaborators, through whom he reflects on his own queer community. They are rarely fully depicted in the photographs, rather partly obscured and revealed in fragments. Through centralising the nude within the intimate studio setting, Sepuya transforms the space into a site for community and revelation, both erotic and aesthetic.