I make photographs, books and installations rooted in portraiture, homoerotic visual culture and the function of the studio. Portraiture is the foundation of my practice. The subjects appearing in my work are a cast of friends, intimates and muses. They are founded in ongoing relationships mediated by the making and production of photographs.
My working process plays of of what Brian O’Doherty calls the “collage of compressed tenses [within] studio time.” Every photograph contains within it the instances of what preceded it. In thinking of photography this way, I am able to bring together and embrace the contradictions that photographic production generates: in its accelerated gratification of desire and simultaneous displacement of its subjects by the resulting image-objects. It allows me to hold, within the studio, all material as potential. Each enters into the frame of another within a chain of production, revision, destruction and re-production.
“Figures, Grounds and Studies,” my current project, lays bare an interdependent formal relationship between my gaze, the subject depicted and the viewer’s (or audience’s) presence within a history of eroticized and racialized photographic constructs. Those constructs are inextricably bound with the medium, and my thesis argues for acknowledging photography as first and foremost a process of constructive desire. – January 2017
b.1982 San Bernardino, CA.
Studio in Los Angeles, lives and works in Los Angeles and New York City.
2016 MFA Photography, University of California Los Angeles
2004 BFA Photography & Imaging, New York University Tisch School of the Arts
SOLO EXHIBITIONS AND PROJECTS
2017 “Figures, Grounds and Studies,” Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, NY.
2015 “Figures / Grounds / Studies,” DOCUMENT, Chicago, IL.
2014 “STUDIO WORK,” Platform Centre for Photography, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.
2013 “RECENT PICTURES / a journal,” Clough-Hanson Gallery at Rhodes College, Memphis, TN.
2013 “STUDIO WORK,” Artspeak, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
2011 “STUDIO WORK,” Franklin Art Works, Minneapolis, MN.
2010 “Portraits / Positions,” NP Contemporary Art Space, New York, NY.
2009 “Alexandria,” envoy enterprises, New York, NY.
2007 “Beloved Object and Amorous Subject,” envoy gallery, New York, NY. (catalogue)
TWO AND THREE PERSON EXHIBITIONS
2017 Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, NY. With Deana Lawson and Judy Linn.
2016 “storefront: Public Fiction,” MOCA Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA. With Litia Perta, curated by Lauren Mackler.
2016 “MFA Thesis Show #3,” New Wight Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles, CA. With Nikita Gale and Sarah Sarchin.
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2017 “Compassionate Protocols,” Callicoon Fine Arts, New York, NY. Curated by Moyra Davey and Jason Simon.
2016 “Tête-à-tête,” David Castillo Gallery, Miami, FL. Curated by Mickalene Thomas.
2016 “Protuberances,” LAXART, Los Angeles, CA.
2016 “Occupy Space Differently,” Ochi Projects, Los Angeles, CA.
2016 “A Subtle Likeness,” ONE Archive, Los Angeles, CA.
2016 “James Baldwin / Jim Brown and the Children,” The Artists’ Institute, New York, NY. Curated by Hilton Als.
2016 “Jack Pierson: Tomorrow’s Man,” University of Nevada, Reno, NV. Curated by Jack Pierson.
2016 “Queering the Biblioproject,” Center for Book Arts, New York, NY. Curated by John Chaich.
2015 “Record. Collect. Compose,” Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. Curated by Masood Kamandy (catalogue)
2015 “I Am a Camera,” Houston Foto Fest, Houston, TX.
2015 “A Room of One’s Own,” Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, NY.
2015 “Nine Artists,” Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa.
2015 “Introducing! Young California Photographer Award,” Paris Photo LA, Los Angeles, CA.
2015 “In Profile: Portraits from the Permanent Collection,” the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY.
2014 “Kings County,” Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa. (catalogue)
2014 “Spain & 42 St.,” Foxy Production, New York, NY.
2014 “Something Beautiful,” Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, NY.
2014 “Beyond the Pale,” Interstate Project, Brooklyn, NY. Curated by Sam McKinniss. (catalogue)
2014 “Race, Love, and Labor,” Dorsky Museum of Art, SUNY New Paltz, NY. Curated by Sarah Lewis. (catalogue)
2014 “The Thing Itself,” Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, NY.
2014 “Lighting Speed of the Present,” Boston University, Boston, MA. Curated by Lynne Cooney.
2013 “Tête-a-Tête,” QF Gallery, East Hampton, NY. Curated by Mickalene Thomas.
2013 “Body Language,” The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY.
2013 “The Kids Are All Right,” Weatherspoon Museum of Art, Greensboro, NC.
2013 “White Boys,” Cantor-Fitzgerald Gallery at Haverford College, Philadelphia, PA. Curated by Hank Willis Thomas and Natasha Logan. (catalogue)
2012 “The Kids Are All Right,” Koelher Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI.
2012 “BENEATH,” VOGT Gallery, New York, NY.
2012 “B-OUT,” Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY.
2012 “Surface Tension,” Center for Photography at Woodstock, Woodstock, NY.
2011 “Pride & Prejudice Reprise,” Mason Gross Galleries at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. Curated by LaToya Ruby Frazier.
2011 “Evidence of Accumulation: Simone Leigh, Kamau Amu Patton, Paul Mpagi Sepuya,” The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY. (catalogue)
2011 “Portraits,” I-20 Gallery, New York, NY. Curated by Simon Watson.
2010 “Quadruple-Consciousness,” Vox Populi, Philadelphia, PA. Curated by Malik Gaines. (catalogue)
2010 “In Translation (Portraiture),” Skylight Projects, New York, NY. Curated by Joe Sheftel.
2010 “Lost Horizon / Head Shop,” Exile Berlin, Berlin, Germany. Curated by Billy Miller.
2010 “The Accidental Egyptian and Occidental Arrangements,” Façade/Fasad, Brooklyn, NY.
2010 “50 Artists Photograph the Future,” Higher Pictures, New York, NY. Curated by Dean Daderko.
2010 “Printed Matter’s Queer Zines,” Office for Contemporary Art, Oslo, Norway.
2009 “Compassion,” Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY. Curated by AA Bronson
2009 “30 Seconds Off an Inch,” The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY.
2009 “Buddy List,” Space 414, Brooklyn, New York, NY.
2009 “Lyst,” Overtaden Institut for Samtidskunst, Copenhagen, Denmark.
2009 “Inside of Me,” PHIL, Los Angeles, CA.
2009 “My Bloody Valentine,” Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA. Curated by Darin Klein.
2008 “Artist as Publisher,” Center for Book Arts, New York, NY.
2008 “LEADAWARDS2008,” Deichterhallen Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.
2008 “Male: photographs, drawings, paintings and ephemera from the collection of Vince Aletti,” White Columns, New York, NY. (book)
2007 “Come Join The Brotherhood,” Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney and Neon Parc Galery, Melbourne, Australia
2007 “The Male Gaze,” The powerHouse Arena, Brooklyn, New York, NY.
2006 “When Fathers Fail,” Daniel Reich Gallery, New York, NY.
2006 “Six Degrees of Separation,” Stefan Stux Gallery, NY.
2006 “When Artists Say ‘We’,” Artist Space, New York, NY. Curated by Andrea Geyer.
2005 “Face & Figure: Portrait and Figure Study in Contemporary Photography,” Westport Art Center, Westport, CT. Curated by Daniel Cooney.
AWARDS AND RESIDENCES
2017 Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant for Emerging Los Angeles Artists
2015 Finalist, Paris Photo Los Angeles inaugural Introducing! Young California Photographer Award
2014 Jackman Goldwasser Artist-in-Residence, Hyde Park Arts Center, Chicago
2013 Artist-in-Residence, Fire Island Artist Residency (Sikkema Fellow Award)
2010 – 2011 Artist-in-Residence, Studio Museum in Harlem
2010 Artist-in-Residence, Center for Photography at Woodstock, NY
2009 – 2010 Artist-in-Residence, Workspace, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
2009 – 2010 Visiting Artist, New York University
2009 HomeBase, New York
2008 LEAD Academy, Hamburg
Dafoe, Taylor, “Paul Mpagi Sepuya at Yancey Richardson Gallery,” Blouin ArtInfo / Modern Painters, March 2017
Bourland, Ian, “Paul Mpagi Sepuya,” Artforum Critic’s Pick, March 2017
Griffith, Phillip, “Paul Mpagi Sepuya: Figures, Grounds and Studies,” The Brooklyn Rail, March 1, 2017
Small, Zachary, “The Solitude and Sensuality of an Artist’s Studio,” Hyperallergic, February 20, 2017
Rachel, T. Cole, “Paul Sepuya on finding your form,” The Creative Independent, February 9, 2017
Yau, John, “Three Photographers and What They Show Us About Everyday Life: Deana Lawson, Judy Linn, Paul Mpagi Sepuya,” Hyperallergic, February 12, 2017
“Goings On About Town: Deana Lawson, Judy Linn and Paul Mpagi Sepuya,” The New Yorker, February 1, 2017
Als, Hilton, “James Baldwin / Jim Brown and the Children,” 2016
Garcia, Lindsay, “The Autonomous Limbs of Paul Mpagi Sepuya,” 2016
Malick, Courtney, “From the Singular to the Indexical in Contemporary Portraiture,” SFAQ San Francisco Art Quarterly, 2016
Cole, Teju, “At home in Brooklyn,” 2016
Reznik, Eugene, “Enter the Private World of Photographers’ Studios,” American Photo Magazine, August 13, 2015
“Goings On About Town: A Room of One’s Own,” The New Yorker, August 8, 2015
“Goings On About Town: Spain & 42 St.,” The New Yorker, January 6, 2015
Russeth, Andrew, “To Bushwick! Shows to See Right Now…,” ARTnews, October 30, 2014
Scheffler, Daniel, “Brooklyn Inspires African Artists,” The New York Times, October 14, 2014
“Goings on About Town: The Thing Itself,” The New Yorker, August 19, 2014
Howe, David Everett “The Expanded Photograph,” Art Review, May 2014
Fialho, Alex “Nuggets of Queerness: Year 3 of the Fire Island Artist Residency,” ARTFCITY, August 29, 2013 (online)
Koestenbaum, Wayne “Eric’s Stubble,” My 1980s and Other Essays. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2013. 216 – 222, Print.
Benderson, Bruce “Petits Portraits Entre Amis,” Têtu, March 2013
Akel, Joseph “500 Words: Paul Mpagi Sepuya,” Artforum, May 15, 2012 (online)
Lopes, Fabiana “Review: Portraits, at I-20 Gallery,” Flash Art International, October 2011
Haynes, Lauren and AA Bronson “Evidence of Accumulation,” The Studio Museum in Harlem. Exhibition catalogue, illus. 2011
Aletti, Vince “Goings On About Town: 50 Artists Photograph the Future,” The New Yorker, June 10, 2010
Cotter, Holland, “Art in Review – 50 Artists Photograph the Future,” The New York Times, May 28, 2010
Cotter, Holland, “In Books and Fine Arts, Filling the Down Time of New Year’s,” The New York Times, December 31, 2009
Cotter, Holland, “All the Books You’ll Never Catch on a Kindle,” The New York Times, October 2, 2009
Forteza, Pepo Moreno, “Paul Mpagi Sepuya: Natural Light Portrait,” REVISTA METAL, April 15, 2009 (online)
Ryzik, Melena, “At a Clinic, Artists Reflecting on Home,” The New York Times Art & Design, May 10, 2009
Blagojevic, Bosko, “Paul Sepuya’s ‘Alexandria’ at envoy,” ArtCat, February 10, 2009 (online)
Gartenfeld, Alex, “Jack Pierson interviews Paul Sepuya,” Interview, January 30, 2009 (online)
Courtney, Kenneth, “Alexandria,” This.Hearts.On.Fire, January 5, 2009 (online)
Bronson, AA, “Queer Zines”, catalogue, 2008
Velasco, David, “ARTFORUM 500 WORDS: AA Bronson,” Artforum, October 23, 2008 (online)
Limnander, Armand “Fine Print: Beloved Object and Amorous Subject, Revisited,” The New York Times T Style Magazine, April 4, 2008 (online)
Mancini, Umberto, “La fotografia americana,” Il Terzo Occhio, January 28, 2008
Packum, Monte, “Clean Sheets: Paul Mpagi Sepuya,” SLEEK magazine, Autumn 2007
Trebay, Guy, “Gay Art: A Movement, or at Least a Moment”, The New York Times, May 6, 2007
van Benekom, Jop and Jonkers, Gert, BUTT BOOK, 2006
Polly, John, “Art Zines Rule! Part One,” LOGO New Now Next Blog. September 20, 2006 (online)
Tierney, Paul, “Zine Scene,” V Man issue 7. September 2006. p84, illus.
Klein, Darin, “Thing: New Penis Art from America,” 2006
Weskott, Aljoscha, “Designing Men- Shoot”, de:bug, July – August 2006, p49, illus.
“Weniger ist mehr: Paul Sepuya besticht mit eindrucksvollen Portraits,” GAB-Frankfrut Magazin, April 2006, illus.
“He SHOOTs, He Scores,” by David White, INSTINCT, March 2006, illus.
“Slide Slam” by Allen Frame, Teaching Photo, February 2006, illus.
“Boys”, BUTT, issue 15 2006
“Canadian Professor in New York gets hyper-realistic portrait taken by young photographer,” BUTT, issue 14 October 2005, pp 65-67, illus.
“Paul Mpagi Sepuya,” EYEMAZING 08, pp. 84 – 91, illus.
PUBLIC TALKS, PANELS AND JURIES
2017 Photo LA, Los Angeles, CA. With Kelly Nipper, Marten Elder and Russell Ferguson. (panelist)
2016 Analogue Dissident at South of Sunset, Los Angeles, CA. (artist talk)
2015 Document, Chicago, IL. With Megha Ralapati (artist talk)
2014 The Pitch Project, Milwaukee, WS. (artist talk)
2014 Latitude, Chicago, IL., With Elijah Burgher. (artist talk)
2014 Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL. (artist talk)
2013 School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA. (visiting artist talk)
2013 Haverford College, Philadelphia, PA. (artist talk)
2013 “Black Male Revisited,” Danspace Project, New York, NY. With niv Acosta, Rich Blint, and Thomas Lax. (artist talk)
2013 Fire Island Artist Residency, Cherry Grove Arts Center, Fire Island, NY. With Laurel Sparks, Baker Overstreet and Grey Day. (artist talk)
2013 Artspeak, Vancouver (artist talk)
2012 Pride Photo Award, Amsterdam (juror)
2011 Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY. With Simone Leigh and Kamau Amu Patton. (artist talk)
2011 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (juror)
2010 Center for Photography at Woodstock, NY.
2011 New York Photo Fest (panelist)
2011 Rhode Island School of Design (visiting artist)
2009 Printed Matter Artist Grant (juror)
2006 “Slide Slam,” International Center for Photography, New York City. With Leigh Ledare and Phyllis Galembo. (artist talk)
The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA.
The Center for Photography at Woodstock Collection at SUNY New Paltz, NY.
The Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY.
The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland.
The JP Morgan Collection, New York, NY.
The Leslie Lohman Museum of Art, New York, NY.
The Milwaukee Museum of Art, Milwaukee, WI.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.
The Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Desert, CA.
The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY.
The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.