FT The Next Picture


Pick up the current issue of FT Magazine for an except of my ongoing project SOME RECENT PICTURES / a Journal.

Nuggets of Queerness: Year 3 of the Fire Island Artist Residency

Learn more about FIAR Fire Island Artist Residency and what we were up to during out month on Cherry Grove. An excerpt below:

Stacks of photographs—both taken on Fire Island and previously—filled Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s tabletop, where he was making a 125-page artist book. The pages bear the marks of his edits, erasures, and everyday actions.

Many of Sepuya’s best images have a self-reflexive quality where the photograph consists of his previous prints and image print-outs hung alongside or laying upon other accumulated material from Sepuya’s studio. These layered images stand out because as composites they show both an initial photograph and the way the printed object, whether displayed on a wall or laying on a surface, exists in the world. While in Sepuya’s makeshift studio, with his work lining the walls and amassed on the table, I got the sense that any number of new Sepuya images could be made simply from photographing this space of accumulation.

Sepuya’s subtle, sensuous images of his inner circle and surroundings reflect a New York-centered milieu of influences and associations; any New Yorker on the gallery and queer beat is likely to recognize one or two of the sitters. They, like Sepuya, are part of the scene. Sepuya’s handmade artist book object blurs the lines of autobiography and fiction by pairing his photographic print-outs with the words and images of others from scanned texts and rephotographed book pages. Sepuya plans on showcasing the bound singular book object alongside a handful of archival prints at the NY Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1 in September; as a fascinating document of his sitters over time, I recommend spending at least 10 minutes at Sepuya’s booth this fall to flip through it yourself.

– Alex Fialho

Review of STUDIO WORK by Kevin Killian


Petits Portraits Entre Amis.

A feature by Bruce Benderson in the March 2013 issue of Têtu.

Review of RECENT PICTURES/ A Journal



By Fredric Koeppel
Published Thursday, January 24, 2013

The truth is that beauty and truth are not synonymous, however beautifully John Keats made that assertion, and as far as the visual arts go, artists gave up on beauty long ago, say around 1915, when the cream of the English public schools lay decaying in the muddy trenches of northern France.


500 Words.

 Paul Mpagi Sepuya is a Brooklyn-based artist. His forthcoming publication Studio Work documents the art he made during his residency last year at the Studio Museum in Harlem; the book will be available through D.A.P. starting this fall. Select pieces from that residency are featured in the group exhibition “Surface Tension” at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, which is on view until June 24.

I HAD BEEN READING Brian O’Doherty’s book Studio and Cube, and was influenced by his concept of time, for instance how elements of perception and so on can be very different in the studio, as opposed to outside of it. And, the perception of time—my vantage point within its progression—is something that comes across in my works, especially those made during my Studio Museum residency. (more…)

Freunde von Freunden.


Photography: Fette Sans
Interview: Timothy Hull

It’s almost inevitable to know Paul, especially if you are a young, gay artist living in Brookyln. Being a force of nature, photographer Paul sort of scared me before I knew him but the minute we started singing songs by the Happy Mondays and dancing around John Connelly presents, I knew we would get along like a house on fire; and we have. Paul is the kind of friend you have always desired – a friend that supports you in many wonderful ways, personal and professional.

His recent exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem was all about the collection of studio detritus and the people that pass through Paul’s life. Paul’s work is about his life and I have been pleased and honoured to be such an active participant in it. We are on this journey together and being an artist in New York has been ever the more rewarding because of Paul’s presence.


Minneapolis Tribune.

The male gaze is back again, beaming soulfully from dozens of portraits in a provocative little photo show at Franklin Art Works in south Minneapolis.

Feminists got pretty exercised a few decades back about the way men had been staring at women for centuries, treating them as objects of desire, subjects of conquest, trophies for the bed — marital or otherwise. After countless consciousness-raising sessions, most guys have cleaned up their acts. Or at least learned to feign interest in additional female attributes.

Still, the sexually provocative act of looking has not vanished. In the Franklin show, New York photographer Paul Mpagi Sepuya presents color photos of friends — mostly attractive young men — gazing directly at the camera. Some are clothed, some are not, but all seem to possess a strange vulnerability, their almost expressionless faces appear unguarded, their candor an invitation to intimacy — or a confirmation of it.

Photographed in a bland white room at the Studio Museum in Harlem (where Sepuya was artist in residence for the past year), the images are calculated in their neutrality and lack of drama. Suffused with pale, even light, they present their subjects as transparently as possible, offering nothing to interfere with the gaze or distract from the intimacy between camera and subject, viewer and viewed. The lack of affect seems odd at first, self-consciously banal and irritatingly “arty.”

But that’s wrong. What makes Sepuya’s pictures so unsettling is that they are in fact utterly artless. They have no (obvious) drama, poses, attitudes, expressions or other pictorial theater. Without such professional tricks, Sepuya’s portraits and male nudes are the antithesis of their genre in which a fig leaf of “art” is the typical coverup for homoerotic frisson. Think of Robert Mapplethorpe’s film-noir lighting, proud brows, oiled muscles and neo-classical poses. Sepuya offers homoeroticism for a post-Mapplethorpe era in which it is more a fact of life than a forbidden fruit.

Yet the casual intimacy of the photos can be unnerving. On one hand I was reminded of the healthy self-regard in David Hockney’s homoerotic paintings from the early 1960s. On the other hand, I was uncomfortable at being the subject, yet again, of the male gaze. Even though these guys obviously aren’t interested in gals like me.

-Excerpts from “Three for the road,” exhibition reviews for Franklin Art Works and Burnet Gallery in Minneapolis, by Mary Abbe for the Minneapolis Tribune (December 1, 2011)

Review of “Portraits” at I-20 in FlashArt.

I picked up a copy of FlashArt at my friend’s office and found a review of the exhibition “Portraits” at I-20 that I had work in back in the spring. Here are excerpts:

As with much photography, performance is the starting point of the exhibition “Portraits” curated by Simon Watson.

…In a similarly performative vein is Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s Untitled (Displacement). Created this past year during his residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem [my correction: this was created at the 2010 residency at the Center for Photography at Woodstock], Sepuya’s self-portrait is an examination of what is “natural” and what is staged, with perhaps a commentary on coy seduction.

… “Portraits” gives new perspective on our wired cultural predicament: what it feels like for all of us to be perpetually on view and on stage.

-Fabiana Lopes, FlashArt, October 2011

Portfolio HUNTER magazine.


On portraiture and transformation, an excerpt and some text in HUNTER magazine’s current AW11-12 issue.


Genesis and Glenn for SLEEK Magazine.

I made portraits to accompany an interview with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge by Glenn O’Brien in the current AW issue of Berlin-based SLEEK Magazine. See the article online here.

Repeating Islands.

Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s (1982) color photographs demonstrate his active engagement with the history and process of portraiture, as well as his experiments with framing, cropping and editing. Sepuya portrays young men in his community, making visible the relationships and intimacy between himself and his subjects. Studio Work (2010–present) is an installation of photographs, including self-portraits, created in his studio at the Museum. By inviting his subjects into his studio space, Sepuya adds his presence to the photographs, even from behind the camera.

-Ivette Romero, Repeating Islands. July 30, 2011

Mirror Mirror.

I did some album photos for Mirror Mirror’s new album FRKWYS Vol 5.

Check out the new single here. More photos here.

Introducing the 2010-11 AIRs in Studio Magazine.

Among other goodies, the new issue of Studio Magazine- the seasonal publication of the Studio Museum in Harlem- has a brief feature introducing Kamau, Simone, and me as the current Artists-in-Residence. It should be out soon for free at the SMH.

Out There.

There is an interview and work of mine in the 2nd issue of the British magazine Out There. Check it out if you see it on newsstands.