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Portraits / Positions

In conjunction with the Louisville Photo Biennial
September 22 - November 12, 3rd Floor Gallery

Paul Mpagi Sepuya is known for his extensive photographic documents of domesticated scenes of friends, fellow artists, and lovers. Interwoven within these tender, often amatory, environments is Sepuya’s practice of including anatomized photographs of his studio. Serving as intimate studio still lifes his images capturing the dormant settings of portrait props, drapes, tripods and his own restaged photographs collaged onto mirrors, are further extensions of the pleasure and desire that stem from the social world in which his work is grounded.  

Sepuya’s dissected scenes of portrait making presage a more cumulative process, one that continually builds on an identity firmly within a social structure of gay male peers and mentors. His tableaus are informed by a coded language of visuals, social cues, and other signals to queer culture from Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, Peter Hujar and George Dureau to more obscure and subversive communities within the history of the gay avant-garde. Positioned within this historical framework, Sepuya aligns with the contemporary impulse among artists to locate a space of unity for their work to exist. As his photographs index previous studio activity and former portrait sessions, his studio becomes as much the focus as his living subjects.  

Paul Mpagi Sepuya was born in San Bernardino, California in 1982. He received a BFA in Photography & Imaging from New York University Tisch School of the Arts in 2004 and a MFA in Photography from the University of California Los Angeles in 2016. His work is included in the upcoming exhibition “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon” on view at the New Museum in New York from September 27, 2017—January 21, 2018. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles.

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Mirror Study, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery.

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