Aplerh-Doku Borlabi Ghana, b. 1987

Borlabi’s early works applied his foundational learning in academic painting, creating naturalistic compositions, and for years he grappled with finding a visual language that felt authentic. Using coconut sheath to create the skin of the figures in his portraits, he found a way to embody his own culture and ethnic identity into his practice. The coconut tree and fruit is now part of the artist’s daily visual experience. From a distance, the mixed media works of oil paint and coconut husk on canvas, appear as richly toned brown skin. The intrinsic properties of the coconut sheath’s multiple layers, longhairs, and varying shades of brown whimsically renders skin texture and bone structure, while emulating the way natural light surfaces on skin. With one medium, the artist was able to capture the physical colour complexities of black people’s skin, and visually narrate the physical organic connections of humanity, and plant life.
Aplerh-Doku Borlabi was formally trained at Ghanatta College of Arts and Design, the alma mater of his mentor, acclaimed contemporary artist, Amaoko Boafo and his studio is today part of the Amoako Boafo Studio. Borlabi grew up in the CoCo Beach area of Accra, where he draws his inspiration for his current work. 


Solo exhibitions include Uncaged and Watered, Gallery 1957, London, UK (2023); In Our Nature, Septieme Gallery, Paris, France (2023) and Shia Hiɛ Nyam Woo: Honouring Home, Gallery 1957, Accra, Ghana (2022). Group shows include Unlimited, Gallery 1957, Accra, Ghana (2022); 18 (Rising Ghana), PM/AM Gallery, London, UK (2022); Winner Takes All, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, USA, curated by Amoako Boafo and Larry Ossei-Mensah (2022) and Could You Be Loved, Gallery 1957, Gallery III, Accra, Ghana (2021). Borlabi has participated in Art X Lagos, with Gallery 1957 in 2021.

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