Paul Sepuya

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Paul Mpagi Sepuya
Born 1982
San Bernardino, California U.S.
Education Tisch School of the Arts
New York University
University of California Los Angeles
Known for Portraiture
Movement Contemporary Studio Portraiture

Paul Mpagi Sepuya (born 1982) is an American photographer and artist. His photographs focus heavily on the relationship between artist and subject, often exploring the nude and the relationship and intimacy of studio photography. Curator and critic Hilton Als associated Sepuya philosophically and spiritually as one of writer James Baldwin's "living children."[1] Critic Barry Schwabsky describes Sepuya as " a must have artist of the moment."[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Sepuya was born in San Bernardino, California.[3] He received a Bachelor in Fine Arts in Photography & Imaging from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 2004 and subsequently a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from UCLA Department of Art in 2016. Work from his master's degree was presented at the UCLA MFA Exhibition #3.[4]


Sepuya's series Studio Work (2010–11) continues the development of his sustained interest in portraiture and the intimacy developed between the sitter and the photographer in the controlled environment of the studio. The range and breadth of his work examines not only the personality and character of the portrait but the private performance that exists within the photographic studio. “My studio was private, but not a closed environment. Rather, it was a stage that I inhabited and opened to those around me,”[5] he says in reflecting on the production of the studio environment and those invited to have their portraits made. He draws inspiration for his contemporary investigations of studio photography from the works of Robert Mapplethorpe and art historian and critic Brian O'Doherty who's publication "Studio and Cube:On the relationship between where art is made and where art is displayed"[6] both feature prominently in his early work. He has held a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem and his work is included in the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.[2]

In addition he has published several artists books and editions with Printed Matter, Inc and has maintained a professional relationship with its former executive director (2004-2010) AA Bronson. Since 2004, Sepuya has shot editorial features for I.D. (magazine), Kaiserin Magazine, and BUTT Magazine. His evolving collection of the self-published periodical 'SHOOT' has been sold internationally since its inception in 2005.[7] Sepuya's 2010 publication, "The Accidental Egyptian and Occidental Arrangements," co-created with artist Timothy Hull, was financed through crowdfunding.[8]

Sepuya is represented by Document, Chicago; Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York; Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town.[9]

Predominantly NY-based through 2014, he is currently visiting faculty at CalArts, School of Art, Program in Photography and Media.[10]

Four of his photos are in the collection of MoMA.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Als, Hilton. "James Baldwin/Jim Brown and the Children". 
  2. ^ a b Schwabsky, Barry (22 May 2017). "Playing with Mirrors: Two artists push the limits of what cameras can do". The Nation: 42. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "UCLA Arts: School of the Arts and Architecture". UCLA Arts: School of the Arts and Architecture. Retrieved 2017-06-22. 
  5. ^ "Talent: Paul Mpagi Sepuya". CULT. Retrieved 2017-06-22. 
  6. ^ O'Doherty, Brian (2007). Studio and Cube. New York City: Princeton Architectural Press. p. 40. ISBN 9781883584443. 
  7. ^ SHOOT Magazine
  8. ^ Smyth, Diane (October 2010). "The art of photography". The British Journal of Photography. 
  9. ^ "Paul Mpagi Sepuya - Artists - Yancey Richardson". Retrieved 2017-06-22. 
  10. ^ "Paul Sepuya". Retrieved 2017-06-22. 
  11. ^ "Paul Mpagi Sepuya", Art and Artists, MoMA, retrieved 2017-10-10 

External links[edit]