Paul Sepuya

Artadia Awardee

“Paul Sepuya’s consideration of the subject in photography, and his desire to trouble the site of authorship in this canon of capture, is very interesting and necessary, as we continue to rely more and more on tropes of representation. His technical expertise helps to trouble the ruse of visibility, and he is asking questions about portraiture that we should all be considering in this moment.” – Taylor Renee Aldridge, Visual Arts Curator, California African American Museum

“One of the most exciting elements of Paul’s work (and there are many) are his abstract representations of skin color applied in collage form to highlight our culture’s grossly over-simplified understanding of race.” – Beth Malone, Independent Curator and Executive Director, Dashboard

Paul Mpagi Sepuya (b. 1982, San Bernardino, CA) is a Los Angeles-based artist working in photography and an Acting Associate Professor at UC San Diego. Recent exhibitions include a solo at Vielmetter Los Angeles, a survey of work at CAM St. Louis, and a project for the 2019 Whitney Biennial.

Paul’s photography foregrounds an entangled relationship between artist, subject and viewer moving across traditional portraiture, staging, and abstraction. With a self-conscious play of presentation and concealing, his pictures complicate queer and Black subject positions within surface and reflection, the presence of lens and mirror, and in rendering visible touch and trace. They often question pictorial space but are made strictly in-camera, inspired by what Brian O’Doherty calls the “collage of compressed tenses [within] studio time.”

Paul Sepuya is the recipient of the 2021 Los Angeles Art Fund Artadia Award.

Image details:

Darkroom Mirror (0X5A0752), 2019
Screen (0X5A2669), 2020
Figures (0X5A7800), 2019
Studio (0X5A8716), 2020
Mirror Study (0X5A4203), 2019
Exposure (_1150781), 2020