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 was born in 1965 in Porto-Novo, Benin, where he still lives and works. He 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. 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.

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.

Agbodjélou’s work will be included in the international travelling exhibition, Making Africa – A Continent of Contemporary Design, curated by Amelie Klein with Okwui Enwezor, to be held at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, USA (15 October 2017 – 07 January 2018).

His work has recently been acquired for the permanent collection of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) and will be 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.




Danny Shorkend in Cape Times, October 2015: Fabric of the spirit worldPDF

Charles Gore in African Arts, Autumn 2015: Artist interview: Leonce Raphael AgbodjelouPDF