Khalilah Birdsong is a painter 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 Velvenoir in Austria, Europe.  Birdsong has had solo exhibitions in Cincinnati, Ohio and Atlanta, Georgia.  Her 2016 solo exhibition at the Cincinnati Art Underground was reviewed in Cincinnati CityBeat.  Khalilah has paintings in private and corporate collections, including commissioned works.  Four of her paintings were recently acquired by the City of Atlanta for the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Aquatic Center.  Birdsong’s work can be found in President Barack Obama’s private collection, which is being considered for his Presidential Library.

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.

Hathaway Contemporary Gallery (Atlanta, GA, USA): www.hathawaygallery.com

Cincinnati Art Underground (Cincinnati, OH, USA): www.cincinnatiartunderground.com

The Fine Art Associates (Honolulu, HI, USA): www.fineartassociates.com

Velvenoir (Salzburg, Austria, Europe): www.velvenoir.com


Khalilah Polly Mag 11/2016Photo: Deogracias Lerma