Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou’s photographs of the people of Porto-Novo, Benin (formerly Republic of Dahomey) are drawn from street life, his friends, family and studio customers. Benin is all about colour – Porto Novo is like a visual assault.In Leonce’s impressive portraits, wild combinations of locally designed Dutch imported textiles create extreme gradations between background, foreground, person and clothing. Leonce is part of a generation experiencing rapid change and his photographs capture the energy and unfettered zest for life of a people caught between tradition and progress.
There is a Byzantine era manuscript illumination of the Martyrdom of St.Timothy where he is getting stabbed by a whole bunch of soldiers with spears, but he looks incredibly tired and nonchalant. I am dying to find it. It reminds me of myself.