Saturday, April 15, 2017

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Figures, Grounds and Studies @ Yancey Richardson

I think we can all agree that the photograph is a constructed object with a tangential relation to the world? I think that’s fair, right? And it strikes me that I am seeing Sepuya’s work through older eyes that can’t help but see the more illusionary aspects of his work as treading, conceptually, on very settled ground. But maybe this is matter of perspective and for younger photographers, the issue isn’t so settled that it can still be used for the more productive end of making things look good. I think this may be the case in Sepuya’s Figures, Ground and Studies. The disorienting effect of not being able to distinguish a reflection from a large print directly in front of the camera is fun, and Sepuya does produce some enjoyable stark and graphic images with a touch of male sexuality occasionally peeking out from behind a black sheet. All good stuff, but for my money I still preferred the few straight-on portraits of men in disorienting studio setups. Also, this is the most compelling show Yancey Richardson has done since moving to the larger ground-floor space.

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Yancey Richardson (525 W 22nd St., Btw. 10th & 11th Aves.)


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