LEONCE RAPHAEL AGBODJÉLOU
b. 1965 Porto-Novo, Benin
Lives and works in Porto-Novo, Benin
Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou is known for his dramatic photographs that capture the dynamic energy of contemporary Porto-Novo. Drawing on subjects from cultural and street life, Agbodjélou produces carefully composed photographs using medium format film and natural light. Trained by his father, the world-renowned studio photographer, Joseph Moise Agbodjélou in the conventions of West African studio photography, Agbodjélou reinterprets these traditional methods through his own unique approach and individual style.
Since 2009, Agbodjélou has been presenting his photographs as part of his ongoing Citizens of Porto Novo project. The various thematic bodies of work include; From Dahomey to Benin, Borderlands, Demoiselles de Porto Novo, Muscle Men, Egungun and his latest Camouflage series.
Agbodjélou is the founder and director of the first photographic school in Benin which opened in 2013, and has recently been appointed the president of the Photographer’s Association of Porto-Novo. Agbodjélou is the recipient of the 2013 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize which he was awarded by the National Portrait Gallery in London, UK.
Most recently, Agbodjélou presented work as part of Ex Africa: Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil in São Paulo, Brazil, which ran from the 28 April until 16 July. Adbodjélou is currently participating in the group show, Pop Stars! Popular Culture and Contemporary Art at 21c in Oklahoma City, USA, which runs until February 2019. His work is also currently being exhibited at The Mint Museum in North Carolina, as part of the group exhibition Africa-Print Fashion Now! A story of taste, globalization and style. Agbodjélou’s work is also part of the travelling exhibition, Making Africa, which is open at the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin Texas and will run until the 6 January 2019.
He presented his first solo exhibition From Dahomey to Benin in 2010 in London. The Egungun Project was presented in Germany in 2013, followed by his latest solo exhibition Code Noir in 2014 in London; Egungun Masquerades at SMAC Gallery in Cape Town , South Africa in 2015 and, most recently Borderlands at Jack Bell Gallery in London, UK in 2016.
His work has been exhibited widely in Africa and internationally. Notable group exhibitions include: Betwixt and Between: Contemporary African Photography at the Museum of Glasgow in Glasgow, Scotland; Out of Focus: Photography at the Saatchi Gallery in London, UK both in 2012; Revealed 2 at the Samtag Museum of Art in Adelaide, Australia in 2013; Lagos Photo Festival in Nigeria in 2014; All Things Being Equal at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), in Cape Town, South Africa; X: Part III at SMAC Gallery in Stellenbosch, South Africa both in 2017. In 2018 Agbodjélou’s work was included in the group exhibition entitled The Atlantic Triangle, curated by Alfons Hug at the 11th Bienal Do Mercosul in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Agbodjélou’s work is included in numerous international travelling exhibitions, most recently: Making Africa – A Continent of Contemporary Design, curated by Amelie Klein with Okwui Enwezor, held at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, USA in 2017 and Albuquerque Museum, in Albuquerque; Blanton Museum of Arts, Austin, both in USA 2018. His work is also included in African-Print Fashion Show Now! A Story Of Taste, Globalization, and Style, a travelling exhibition where African-print fashions are considered as creative responses to key historical moments and the imaginings of Africa in the future at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, in Memphis, USA, also travelling in 2018.
His work has recently been acquired for the permanent collection of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) and was included in the inaugural exhibition opening on 22 September 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa. Other notable collections include: the Switzerland Museum of Modern Art, Zurich, Switzerland; Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK; Saatchi Collection, London, UK; CAAC Pigozzi Collection, Geneva, Switzerland; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, USA; Tiroche DeLeon Collection, Gibraltar; Iziko South African Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa; Scheryn Art Fund, Cape Town, South Africa; Museum of Modern Art, Equatorial Guinea; Danjuma Collection, Esher, United Kingdom; and most recently, The Kelvin Grove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland.
- Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou recently presented work as part of Ex Africa: Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil in São Paulo, Brazil, which ran from 28 April – 16 July.
- He is also currently participating in the group exhibition, Pop Stars! Popular Culture and Contemporary Art at 21c in Oklahoma City, USA, until February 2019.
- Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou will have work featured as part of the group exhibition entitled Africa-Print Fashion Now! A story of taste, globalization and style which opens at The Mint Museum in North Carolina on the 6 October 2018.
- The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum on Glascow has added Agbodjelou’s work to their permanent collection.
- Agbodjélou’s work is also part of the travelling exhibition Making Africa which is open at the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin Texas and will run until the 6 January 2019.