Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary African Art


Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou

C-Print, Edition: 2/6 + 2AP

150 by 100cm., 59 by 39¼in.
Executed in 2014
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Jack Bell Gallery, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner


London, Jack Bell Gallery, Code Noir, 2015

Catalogue Note

Untitled Triptych (Code Noir) is part of Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou’s ‘Code Noir’ series, which explores the history of slave trade in Benin. Agbodjelou captures the complex history and human stories within his native Porto-Novo, the capital of Benin. The series is named after ‘Code Noir’ (Black Code), a legal order originally passed in 1685 by King Louis XIV, which outlined severe policies for the punishment and control of slaves.

The left and right photographs of this triptych work illustrate scenes in the city, which once served as the Portuguese slave trading port. In front of these decaying colonial structures, makeshift market shops now stand, as an integral part of the city's activity. In the middle photograph, a woman proudly holds a black and white photograph of ancestors, remembered for their courage and strength. Agbodjelou offers an intimate look at the human effects of the slave trade, with a narrative lens on the people and scenes of Porto-Novo.

Leonce Raphael Agdbodjelou’s work has been collected by the Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC) and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. He has been exhibited at Brooklyn Museum New York, Fowler Museum, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Israel & Camden Arts Centre, Saatchi Gallery London, Seattle Art Museum, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and Vitra Design Museum, among others.

Modern and Contemporary African Art