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.

Agbodjélou’s work has been exhibited widely in Africa and internationally. Group exhibitions include Betwixt and Between: Contemporary African Photography at the Museum of Glasgow and Out of Focus: Photography at the Saatchi Gallery in London in 2012. His photographs formed formed part of Revealed2 at the Samtag Museum of Art in Adelaide, Australia in 2013; Making Africa – A Continent of Contemporary Design, curated by Amelie Klein and Okwui Enwezor, at the Vitra Museum in Basel, Switzerland in 2015 and Making & Unmaking, curated by Duro Olowu, at the Camden Arts Centre in London, UK in 2016. Agbodjélou was also featured at the 2014 Lagos Photo Festival in Nigeria.


Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou is included in the upcoming exhibition African-print Fashion Now! A story of Taste, Globalization, and Style at the Fowler Museum, UCLA, USA opening in July 2017; and the international travelling exhibition, Making Africa – A Continent of Contemporary Design – curated by Amelie Klein with Okwui Enwezor -recently held at the Kunsthal Rotterdam, Netherlands and which will open at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, USA (15 October 2017 – 07 January 2018). Agbodjélou’s work has recently been included in the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Museum in the USA.




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

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