Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Daylight Studio / Dark Room Studio
Paul Mpagi Sepuya: Exposure
Jan 27 – May 5, 2024
Nottingham Contemporary
Nottingham, UK

In Spring 2024, Nottingham Contemporary will present a major monographic exhibition by the Los Angeles-based artist, Paul Mpagi Sepuya (b.1982, United States). The exhibition will be the first institutional presentation of Sepuya’s work in the UK, bringing together more than 40 works across almost 400 square metres of gallery space.

Sepuya is best known for his intimate studio portraits that explore the relationships between camera, subject and viewer. His photographs are not only images of desire, but also images about the making of images. The people present throughout his photographs are friends, lovers and members of the artist’s queer and creative communities. Sepuya himself is often present in his work, glimpses of his body appearing in reflections or from outside the frame. Generally, these glimpses intentionally highlight him as the maker of the images, positioning the camera or releasing the shutter. The recurring use of mirrors is both practical and symbolic, both as a tool to hold and layer fragments of images, and as a means to deny the direct gaze of the viewer’s eye.

The history of photography, particularly that of daylight studios in 19th-century Europe and North America, forms the basis of Sepuya’s most recent body of work, Daylight Studio / Dark Room Studio. Paul Mpagi Sepuya: Exposure at Nottingham Contemporary brings these new explorations, including three new sculptural pieces, into conversation with a selection of works from the past eight years around different ideas and acts of ‘exposure’. From often unseen moments of queer intimacy, to the traces of people left behind after they have vacated the studio, the exhibition plays on questions of visibility and invisibility, of the gaze, of what is obscured and what is revealed. The construction of an image is ever present through the inclusion of the camera and tripod drawing attention to Sepuya’s own technical and formal abilities.

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