Paul Mpagi Sepuya, an artist who calls Los Angeles his home, is backed by many major galleries and represented worldwide. Born in San Bernardino, California, in 1982, Sepuya graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the New York University Tisch School of the Arts in 2004. He also received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California Los Angeles Department of Art in 2016. Upon graduation from Tisch, Sepuya began work as an editorial photographer for a variety of magazines. Some of the most notable of these shoots were for ID Magazine, and Kaiserin Magazine.

Sepuya’s focus is in Queer and Black portraiture. He focuses specifically on exploration of the intimate and complex relationships that exist between various aspects of art. These aspects include subject/artist, subject/audience, and subject/ground – the studio space which the subject inhabits. Making use of the effects available through mirrors and collages, Sepuya explores homoerotic portraiture, male nudes and self-portraits in a unique way.

He has acknowledged in interviews that his use of rips and tears and reconstruction are symbols of queer culture and how society perceives it. His use of lines, composition, colors and contrast have challenged the norms of self-perception and the aforementioned relationships. In his thesis for UCLA he states, “I want these queer, black photographs to exist within historical and contemporary conversations about photography as a whole, affirming the medium and my personal investment in it’s potential futures.”

In the last 14 years, Sepuya’s work has grown and he is now recognized and has been represented in galleries across the world. International exhibits have been featured in Amsterdam, Canada, South Africa, Denmark, Norway, Australia, and Germany. His work has also been displayed in galleries across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida, California, Wisconsin, and Illinois, and many others.

– Amy Suto

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