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KAJAHL (b. 1985 in Santa Cruz, California). Lives and works in New York.

Through painting, Kajahl Benes resurrects objects that are lying dormant in historical archives. He endlessly scours and sifts through books, online images and visits museums in order to gather source material. Benes takes these finds from his excavations and hybridizes entities that eventually become grandiose figures. Although the characters he constructs belong to a multiplicity of time periods, locations and cultures, they foreground the forgotten past and reanimate minor artifacts of history into what amounts to a transformative assemblage.

Benes’ solo exhibitions include, Kajahl: Obscure Origins, Tillou Fine Art, Brooklyn, NY; and the University North Carolina Wilmington Arts Gallery, Wilmington, NC. He has an upcoming solo exhibition at Richard Heller Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, opening September 9, 2017.

Benes has exhibited his work in numerous group exhibitions, including In Context: Africans in America, Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, ZA; emerging; Visual Art and Music in a Post-Hip-Hop Era, MoCADA, Brooklyn, NY; 30 Americans; Next Generation, Contemporary Wing, Washington, DC; and The Black Portrait, Rush Arts Gallery, New York, NY.

In 2013, Benes was a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors grant. In 2016, Benes participated in the Joan Mitchell Center, Artist in Residence in New Orleans, LA, and the New Holland Residences, Studio Program, New York, NY.

Benes received his BFA from San Francisco State University in the Fall of 2008, and spent his final year studying at the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze, Italy. In the spring of 2012 he received his MFA from Hunter College in New York City.

In addition, Benes has traveled extensively throughout Western Europe, Central America and parts of Africa including Morocco, Ethiopia and Kenya in search of inspiration. His travels have been centered on direct work with the photographic archives of the Warburg Institute, Ethnological Museum of Xalapa, Mexico City and Berlin.


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