Léonard Pongo

Léonard Pongo (1988, Belgium) is a photographer and visual artist. He started as a documentary photographer who gradually included snapshots and abstraction into his approach. His long-term project The Uncanny, shot in Congo DR, has earned him several international awards and world-wide recognition.


Pongo’s work has been featured in numerous exhibitions in Africa, Asia, Europe and the USA and published in WSJ, The Guardian UK, The Washington Post, National Geographic and several other international publications. He was chosen as one of PDN’s '30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch' in 2016 and recipient of the Getty Reportage Grant in 2018. 


Primordial Earth, his latest project, was shown at the Lubumbashi Biennale, the Recontres de Bamako, BOZAR and Mu.ZEE. By exploring the diversity of landscapes in Congo DR, Pongo offers an allegorical imagery of the country. Imbued with a sense of magical beauty and mystical power, the landscape seen through his eyes becomes a setting to rebuild the self, and the earth becomes the source of an awareness from which tradition, philosophy and conceptions of the universe emerge. Drawing inspiration from Congolese traditions and Kasaian cultures, Primordial Earth presents the landscape as a character with its own will and power, like an open book that tells the story of humanity and the planet, with Congo at its centre. 


Pongo is based between Brussels and Kinshasa and shares his photographic career between his long-term projects in Congo DR, teaching and assignment work. Pongo is also a member of The Photographic Collective‘s advisory board. His work is part of institutional and private collections.