Khalilah Birdsong (b. 1977, Cleveland, Ohio, USA) is a visual artist with a studio practice based in Maui, Hawaii and Atlanta, Georgia. She creates abstract paintings that explore issues of depth and line. Fields of variegated color serve as her foundations: multi-hued paint progresses across the canvases, artfully uneven in saturation, conjuring a sense of movement and force. Birdsong’s color palette presents more juxtapositions still. Studying the alternating hues, a viewer may come to see the way that one color, barely visible on the finished surface, can serve to gird and guide the layers that succeed it.
Birdsong works with HATHAWAY Contemporary Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, the Cincinnati Art Underground in Cincinnati, Ohio and AHC Projects in Hamburg, Germany. Khalilah has had solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Tokyo and Italy. Her paintings are in private and corporate collections around the world, including commissioned works. Her installation work has been commissioned by corporations in the United States and Tokyo, Japan. 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.
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.
Photo credit: Amanda Greene