Egungun Masquerade XII, 2015

Limited edition

Pigment Ink on HP Premium Satin Photographic Paper
Edition of 10

CM H 148 W 110

IN H 58.27 W 43.31

Certificate of authenticity - Signed by artist

Egungun Masquerade XII, 2015

Egungun Masquerades was the Benin-based photographer Agbodjélou’s first solo exhibition in South Africa. This is his most recent series depicting incarnations of the Yoruba tribe’s ancestral forebears, who appear at funerals and annual festivals in ritualised parades, magical feats and colourful pageantry.
In these photographs, Agbodjélou explores the complex role of the Egungun, capturing both their individual personalities and mannerisms, while emphasising their unequivocal presence as enigmatic spiritual manifestations.

By replacing facial features with cloth associated with ancestral spirits and ase, he draws what has already departed, profoundly close.

The portrayals of these ‘faceless’ figures can also be interpreted as portraits due to their subtle reference to twentieth century studio portraiture in West Africa, which often portrayed sitters posing with props, against ornate backdrops or in elaborate attire in order to register status.

Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou

Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou is one of the pre-eminent photographers of the Republic of Benin. Born in Porto-Novo in 1965, he was trained by his father, the world-renowned photographer Joseph Moise Agbodjelou (1912-2000). Leonce’s ongoing portraiture project, 'Citizens of Porto-Novo,' captures the people of Benin’s capital. Using a daylight studio and a medium format film, the artist interprets the experience of a generation caught between tradition and progress.

Leonce Raphael 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.

In 2018, Agbodjélou presented work as part of Ex Africa: Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil in São Paulo, Brazil, which ran from 28 April until 16 July. Agbodjélou also participated in the group show, Pop Stars! Popular Culture and Contemporary Art at 21c in Oklahoma City, USA, which ran until February 2019. Agbodjélou’s work was also part of the travelling exhibition, Making Africa, which was open at the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin Texas and ran until the 6 January 2019. His work is cur...

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SMAC Gallery

SMAC gallery was established in 2007 in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Since it’s inception, SMAC has focused on presenting the work of emerging and mid-career South African artists, as well as established international artists.

The gallery expanded to its current flagship space in Woodstock, Cape Town, in 2014 and opened a third space in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016. In addition to its contemporary programme, the gallery regularly presents large-scale historical exhibitions and projects that offer a critical re-evaluation of South African art history within a global dialogue.

The gallery’s art fair participation includes The Armory Show, artmonte-carlo, Artissima, Art Brussels and Miart.

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Curated by SMAC Gallery

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