Uncaged and Watered features a new body of work created during Aplerh-Doku Borlabi’s recent residency with the gallery in London and draws on expressions of liberation from social restrictions. Through a process of collaging different elements of vegetation, plants, and furniture, Borlabi has produced figures who take the viewer on a journey towards self-acceptance and emancipation.
Borlabi continues along his trajectory of exploring the overlapping characteristics between Black skin and coconut sheaths, which he uses as a signifier of his Ghanaian identity. Transported from the shores of Coco Beach, Nungua, a beach town in Accra, Borlabi is drawn to the coconut sheaths for their tactile and energetic connection to his homeland and ancestors. Metaphorically, the coconut sheath contemplates the tension between what is disregarded, discarded, and deemed ugly, and what is natural, strong, complex, multidimensional, and beautiful.
Taking further inspiration from Maya Angelou’s autobiographical text I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Borlabi uses his love of colour, texture, and composition to bring into existence his once-imagined liberty. This body of work demarcates a turning point in his career and was created in response to an indelible moment in his personal journey towards self-liberation.
Gallery1957 - 8th December ‘23 - 27th January ‘24. Free.
Image: Aplerh-Doku Borlabi, Mood Swing, 2023
Copyright the Artist. Courtesy of Gallery1957