Contemporary Art

Contemporary  |  6:00pm Sat 17 Feb 2018


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Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou; Egungun Masquerades VII
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Lot 2

Beninese 1965-
Egungun Masquerades VII
edition 5 of 10
pigment ink on HP premium satin photographic paper, dibonded
202 by 150cm excluding frame

Sold for R 50 000
Including Buyer's Premium and VAT R 56 840

Estimate R 50 000 - 70 000

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Another example from the edition is in the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. 

This image by Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou is taken from his series ‘Engungun Masquerades’, and forms part of his larger ongoing photographic essay titled ‘Citizens of Porto Novo’ which he began in 2009. Depicting the traditional costumes worn by the Yoruba people of Benin in funeral parades and cultural ceremonies, the wearers are said to be inhabited by the spirits of their ancestral forebears who come to guide the passage of the living.   

Ruth Simbao1 notes of Agbodjelou’s photographs; “This level of visual detail that is afforded the viewer in these static images, contrasts significantly to the energetic vision of these composite costumes performing in Egungun masquerades that are usually associated with death. When in dance, the panels of cloth fly away from the body, creating a visual swirl that seems to reach out to the spiritual world – “the strips and panels blend together and the colours fade into one another until nearly all details disappear and the costume becomes part of everything and is immortal, like Olodumare”2. As Rowland Abiodun suggests, “Cloth thus becomes a tangible point of contact with the orisa [gods] and the ancestors”.

  1. Ruth Simbao, "Portraits of ‘The Deathlessness of Cloth: Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou’s Egungun Masquerades series" (2015).
  2. Olodumare is the name given to one of the three manifestations of the Supreme God in the Yoruba pantheon. See: Rowland O Abiodun. “Yoruba in Nigeria and Diaspora,” in Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, eds. Joanne B Eicher and Doran H Ross, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010

SMAC Gallery, Cape Town, Egungun Masquerades, 3 September to 13 October 2017.

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