Paul Mpagi Sepuya Introduces the Lafawndah Family

FYI: Paul Mpagi Sepuya is a super lauded Brooklyn-based photographer/artist. Like, super seriously lauded. And totally warranted, might we add. Just ask, y’know, the New York Times, Interview, New York Mag, Paper, Art Forum, etc etc etc who all agree: he’s awesome. His work, which you NYers hopefully checked out at his recent exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem, typically reflects the people in his life. A lot of times this means dudes in the nude at his studio. Do your thang, boy! As for today, Paul has gifted Galore with an exclusive look at his black-and-white portraits of buzzed-about musician, Lafawndah. Ps, American Apparel’s creative director, Iris Alonzo, recently equated her music to “good sex — the perfect balance between sweet and rough.” So there’s that. As for the photos, they are (duh) gorgeous. Oh! Aaaand we caught up with the artist himself.

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How did you meet Lafawndah?
I know Lafawndah through friends at parties — maybe six years ago we met.  She was a sexy mystery and I’d see her around NYC between her stops in France, Mexico, LA… and we caught up in February when she was performing for the first time in LA at the legendary La Cita Moustache Mondays. Michael Bullock said it best: “she seduced the crowd with her trance-like stage persona, danceable pop beats, and multilingual lyrics (English, Farsi, French, and Swahili).” And you can feel that in these photos. Alluring without boundaries or rules.

What was your vision behind this particular shoot?
Brothers and sister. Fraternal threesome on a chill spring morning. Sexy but not sexual and altogether sweet and a little mysterious. We shot on location at their apartment in Spanish Harlem. Playing dress up with markers, toys and a French bulldog. I know John from a shoot I did for DIS Magazine and I shot him and his twin Colin for the new line FANMAIL and they were so sweet to work with — so I had to triple it up. Once I showed Yasmine the boys, it was a collaboration all the way. Aren’t they a hot family? The family LAFAWNDAH.

We just released our Women Who Rock issue! Are there any rocking ladies you’d like to shoot someday soon?
Tali Lennox, what more can I say? Icon, royalty, and an up-and-coming creative in her own right. Her mother Annie is a legend and inspiration, but I would love to make a portrait of Tali in her own aura.

Can we look forward to any upcoming projects from you?
I’m taking a small break from exhibitions after the two back-to-back solo shows this Winter — one of an ongoing project called Recent Pictures/a Journal and another a traveling installation from 2011 called Studio Work. I’m working on expanding Recent Pictures, applying for residencies, doing studio visits with galleries and curators, and also finally getting my editorial book together. Some recent editorial shoots have been inspired by the new artwork so I want them to grow together. You’ll see more soon!

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All photos via the amazing Paul Mpagi Sepuya.


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