Los Angeles

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Figure (0X5A0918), 2019, pigment print, 75 × 50".

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Figure (0X5A0918), 2019, pigment print, 75 × 50".

Paul Mpagi Sepuya

Vielmetter Los Angeles

Paul Mpagi Sepuya makes images that coyly invite close looking. In what are essentially studio portraits, Sepuya photographs his subjects—himself, his friends, and his cameras—in mirror reflections that are often doubly echoed on the luminescent screens of iPhones held aloft. The intricate relay of signifying surfaces in Sepuya’s photos may bring to mind Foucault’s essay on Velázquez’s 1656 painting Las Meninas. Explaining the viewer’s relationship to the painting’s ambiguous subject, the theorist writes that the painting contains “a whole complex network of uncertainties, exchanges, and feints,” that “subject and object . . . reverse their roles to infinity.” The result of all of this? “Representation undertakes to represent itself.” Foucault’s explication, first published in 1966, would also come to be an apt description of the postmodernist photography that emerged in the following

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