Khalilah Birdsong is a visual artist with a studio practice based in Maui, Hawaii. She works with Hathaway Contemporary Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, the Cincinnati Art Underground in Cincinnati, Ohio, The Fine Art Associates in Honolulu, Hawaii and AHC Projects in Hamburg, Germany. Birdsong has had solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Japan and Italy. Khalilah’s paintings are in private and corporate collections around the world, including commissioned works. Her installation work has also been commissioned by corporations in the United States. Birdsong’s work can be found in U.S. President Barack Obama’s private collection, which is being considered for his Presidential Library. Khalilah has recently been named by Contemporary Arts Curator Magazine (2019) as one of the 100 future contemporary artists in the world.
The scale and evidence of physicality of Khalilah’s paintings echo Alfred Leslie, Joan Mitchell, Jean Riopelle and the late abstract paintings of Gerhard Richter. Birdsong differs from many of these early abstract painters in that while many of those artists were tied to references to nature, and a looser freer gesture, she combines physicality with a precision and a finely calibrated balance in her work. This speaks to her own personal gestalt, rather than any movement or school of painting defined by social milieu or a specific time.
I am interested in survival and resurgence. Distress, weathering is palpable on the canvas, but so is resurgence. I build layers up and then take them away to create a painting that is, ultimately, whole. The process of layering and stripping builds contusions, bumps and raw ridges, but also reveals patches of older, more forgotten colors. Every painting is an experience through process, which translates to the canvas to create a story that can only be experienced visually. My process is strenuous to the medium. Through it, my paintings achieve resolution.