Leonce Rafael Agbodjelou | Benin

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. 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, Adbodjélou participated in the group show, Pop Stars! Popular Culture and Contemporary Art at 21c in Oklahoma City, USA, which ran until February 2019. His work was also 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.

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 was 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.

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