“A Day in the Life” with Interdisciplinary Artist and Fashion Stylist Biba Esaad

Interdisciplinary Artist and Fashion Stylist Biba Esaad is currently based between Toronto, ON and Montreal, QC. Following Esaad’s time at Queen’s University – where she specialized in a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honors) focused on Oil Painting and Printmaking, she spent time working under the National Gallery of Canada, assisting and supporting the activities for the preparation and realization of the 16th International Venice Biennale (2018). More recently, she was awarded The Power Plant Contemporary Emerging Artist Award (2021), following her participation in the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair in that same year. Her background in Fine Arts contributes heavily to her unique and detail-oriented approach to working, always looking back to the notion of sculpting the body, of nudging the figure into space. Her portfolio consists of a large and diverse range of work – from Paint to Print, Digital to Textiles, Styling to Direction.

Esaad’s work takes form under the guise of the cyborg body – the hybrid body – the site of possible being. There are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between pharaonic bodies and the idea of the cyborg. A pharoah can adorn the wings of a bird, the body of a human and the senses of a cat. Why can’t a human carry those same secrets?

Working interdisciplinary, she roots her practice in a utopian place of imagined existence. On one end, acknowledging the body as a site by which racialized people navigate trauma, while also, using the figure of the cyborg to represent otherness.

Currently, alongside her artistic practice and career in Fashion Styling at SSENSE and within commercial, editorial and e-commerce fashion, the UK native is the acting Co-Editor-in-Chief of Lotion Magazine as well as a Fashion Model signed to Chantale Nadeau, Faces MGMT and Niwa Models.

Biba Esaad
Biba Esaad in her studio in Downtown, Toronto in January 2024. Photo by: by Simone Andrea.
Biba Esaad
Lotion Magazine’s ‘LOTIONLAND’ event in September 2023. Photo by: Kirk Lisaj.
Opening night at Samara Contemporary’s LIVE EDGE, Esaad’s most recent exhibition running from November 30th 2023 to January 13th 2024. Courtesy of the Artist.
Esaad’s parents at the Pyramids of Giza, Cairo, Egypt in 1986. Courtesy of the Artist.
Esaad’s Downtown, Toronto studio in January 2024. Courtesy of the Artist.
Biba Esaad. Detail of; Cheated of Some Marvelous Experience, 2021. Oil on Handmade Canvas, 76 x 106.6 x 5.1cm. Courtesy of the Artist.
Biba Esaad
Esaad leads workshop “Stitchin’ n’ Bitchin’” alongside designer Dillea Hambara and costumer Janelle Sookhai in partnership with Lotion Magazine at The Drake Hotel. Photo by: Simone Andrea in August 2023.
Biba Esaad
Biba Esaad in her studio in December 2023. Courtesy of the Artist.

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What neighborhood are you in?

My studio (and probably favourite place in the world), is in Bloordale, where I work alongside a group of stellar artists + makers. Currently, I am based between Montreal and Toronto – a blessing to be in both cultural spaces simultaneously, yes, but I’d be lying if I said Toronto didn’t have my heart.

What do you do?

Okay, that’s a somewhat loaded question, haha. I work first and foremost as a Fashion Stylist working between Toronto and Montreal on Commercial, Editorial and E-commerce projects, adjacent to my career as a Model with Chantale Nadeau, Niwa Models and Faces MGMT. Simultaneously, I have my artistic practice based on Paint, Print & Textiles. I’m also the Co-Editor-In-Chief of the upcoming Toronto-based publication Lotion Magazine; a 360 brand run by myself and Forever Larnyoh. In my free time, I like to read and cook mostly.

What are you currently working on?

Right now, I have been actively working towards my first Solo Exhibition. It’s been taking form in such a different way than I anticipated – monstrous paintings – of course, but also non-functional furniture (?), 30ft weaves… I cannot wait to share it with you. Alongside this, I’ve been working to fully layout and compile Lotion Magazine Issue 1 – highlighting QTBIPOC and Afro-centric communities locally and globally. And finally, I’ve been attempting to create my first Knitwear Ready-to-Wear Collection, allowing room for play and experimentation throughout the process. Stay tuned for my next ‘Stitchin’ n’ Bitchin’ workshop in partnership with Lotion Magazine and The Drake Hotel for a chance to join our woven community. With upcycling at the forefront of my textile practice, It’s been extremely rewarding to work with my extended communities to collect and source, learn and develop – an ultimately self-taught space in my craft. I can’t wait to share everything with you!

Where can we find your work?

I’m working on a website revamp, so in the meantime, you can find me on Instagram as @rightmood and @cyborgcamp for all things art and fashion, and @lotion.mag for all things events.

 

About Joel Levy 2575 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography