Exhibitionists·Video

Kwame Delfish is an artist whose tools include the paintbrush...and the hairbrush

Artist, painter and hair stylist Kwame Delfish comes from an artistic family, and he's carrying the tradition in his expressive work that is currently inspired by hair.

Delfish carries the same artistic expression through everything he does

(CBC Arts)

Kwame Delfish knows the history of fades. He points out, "In the early '90s, designs were a huge thing and everybody wanted the best barber, the hottest design. It was just like —you need to walk out with that cut." Now, Delfish is an artist who not only paints but designs hair at the salon he co-owns, Hill Studio in Toronto.

Hair design and painting have a strong relationship in Delfish's multidimensional art practice. And his creativity is generational — both of his parents expressed themselves in visual ways, his father as an architect and his mother as a seamstress, and encouraged his development as an artist. Delfish has kept that passion throughout his life and, from studying animation and classical art to becoming a skilled barber, he's never allowed his artistic impulses to be confined by any one medium.

Watch the video:

Kwame Deflish finds ways to express himself through art - whether he's painting on canvas or designing fantastical fades. Filmmaker: Bobby Singh Brown. 3:46

In his new project, Delfish is building on his hair design and translating his ideas into fantastical paintings. And by doing so, he is pointing to a dialogue about Black women and natural hair.

He explains: "Sometimes when I design or someone says, 'Come up with something for my hair,' I'm like, 'Wow, it'd kind of look cool if a dove was perched on top of this hair,' and I can almost carve something close to that, which is really cool. So on canvas now, the beauty about painting is, I can stretch that imagination and actually take it there and show some of these symbols I actually see when I'm designing these hairstyles." Check out the results in this video made by filmmaker Bobby Singh Brown.

Follow Kwame Delfish here.

(Kwame Delfish)
(CBC Arts)
(Kwame Delfish)

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About the Author

Lise Hosein is a producer at CBC Arts. Before that, she was an arts reporter at JazzFM 91, an interview producer at George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight and a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. When she's not at her CBC Arts desk she's sometimes an instructor at OCADU and is always quite terrified of bees.