Leilah Babirye (born 1985, Kampala, Uganda) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She studied art at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda (2007–2010), and participated in the Fire Island Artist Residency in 2015. In 2018, she received asylum in the US with support from the African Services Committee and the NYC Anti-Violence Project, and presented her first solo exhibition at Gordon Robichaux in New York.
In 2021, Babirye presented her first solo exhibition in London at Stephen Friedman Gallery. In 2020, Babirye’s work was the subject of two solo exhibitions—at Rebecca Camacho Presents in San Francisco (January) and at Gordon Robichaux (October–November)—and was featured in group exhibitions at Stephen Friedman Gallery in London, Parker Gallery and Marc Selwyn Fine Art in Los Angeles, and in the Public Art Fund’s Art on the Grid installed throughout New York City.
Babirye’s work was recently exhibited in Flight: A Collective History at the Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY (curated by Serubiri Moses); Stonewall 50 at the Contemporary Arts Museum (CAMH), Houston, Texas; Fur Cup at Underdonk, Brooklyn, NY (curated by Elisa Soliven); Strange Attractors at Kerry Schuss in New York (curated by Bob Nickas); Plays on Camp at Assembly Room (curated by Ksenia M. Soboleva); and in the Socrates Annual 2018 at Socrates Sculpture Park where she presented two monumental commissioned sculptures.
Babirye has participated in numerous panel discussions: at Tisch/NYU (organized by JD Samson); Yorkshire Sculpture International; The Africa Center; the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair; and the Black Lesbian Conference at Barnard College in New York.
Profiles on Babirye and her art have been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Art Newspaper, Wallpaper*, British Vogue, The Brooklyn Rail, Hyperallergic, Cultured Magazine; New York Magazine; Modern Painters; OUT Magazine; Raw Material: A Podcast from SFMOMA (Season 4: Luvvers); BET.com; and the Financial Times.
In 2021, Gordon Robichaux and Stephen Friedman Gallery published the first book dedicated to Babirye’s art with a text by Lauren O’Neill-Butler and a conversation with Rianna Jade Parker.