Rihab Essayh was born in Morocco and raised in Montreal. Essayh is an interdisciplinary artist whose large-scale, immersive installations create spaces of slowing down and softening. Her research considers issues of isolation and disconnection in the digital age, imagining futurities of soft-strength and social reconnection by proposing a heightened attunement to colour, costume, tactility and sound. She completed her MFA at the University of Guelph in 2022. Her work has been shown at the Art Council of Montreal (Montreal), La Centrale Powerhouse Gallery (Montreal),  Never Apart (Montreal), the plumb (Toronto), the Art Gallery of Guelph (Guelph), Union Gallery (Kingston), Arsenale (Toronto), and Mcbride Contemporain (Montreal).

Artist Statement

Rihab Essayh is an interdisciplinary artist interested in building worlds and installations. Her recent tactile and immersive environments emerge from her efforts to support the conditions for "radical softness" – an idea that suggests that showing emotions and vulnerability is a political gesture in a society that prioritizes intellect and indifference. Based on principles of empathy, belonging, and care, particularly important in the context of the pandemic and its drastic social and emotional impacts, Essayh is interested in the human state in a digital age when part of our identity and social encounter reside online. Regarding technical expertise, Rihab is interested in deepening her knowledge of materials to move her practice forward. She seeks to foster a feeling of ambivalence in the viewer with the interest of blending personal, analytical and universal attributes. Essayh used lightness and delicacy, which is the cumulative effect of the constructed landscape speak to her vision of a soft futurism; an imagined future, a hopeful new space that is de-centering, intersectional, inclusive, and radically soft.


2022 MFA in Studio Arts, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, CA

2017 BFA in Studio Arts, Concordia University, Montreal,QC,CA

Solo shows

2022 As With All Warriors of Love , McBride Contemporain, Montreal, QC 

2022-2023 dwelling for the dear one, curated by Angel Callander, Arsenal Toronto, Project space, Toronto, ON 

2022 of longing and songbirds, Union Gallery, Kingston, ON

2022 I dream of a soft oasis, Art Gallery of Guelph, Guelph

2020-2021 Beneath the willow tree. La Centrale Powerhouse, Montreal, QC

2019 Délusions Botaniques. Never Apart, Montreal, QC

Group shows

2023 Plural Art Fair , Montreal,QC

2023 Public Sweat. Art Spin, Harbour Front Center , Toronto, ON, 

2022 Nebulous Straits. Interaccess and Diasporic Futurisms , Toronto, ON, 

2022 soft landing, curated by Jaclyn Quaresma, TPW, Toronto, ON

2022 Vitrine Art & S.W.A.N.A. Diasporas, Articule Gallery, Montreal, QC

2021 A seven of a jack, Boarding House Gallery, Guelph, ON

2021 Grass Tap. The Plumb, Toronto, ON

2021 Spillover Love, curated by Mojeanne Behzadi, Stewart Hall Gallery, Pointe-Claire, QC

2021 Origin of Origins. Rad Hourani Foundation, Montréal, QC

2020 Feminine Notion. Rad Hourani Foundation, Montréal, QC

2020 no show, Boarding House Gallery, Guelph,ON

2019 ARTCH en tournée. Conseil des arts de Montréal, Montreal, QC, CA

2019-2021 Résistence. Voix des Faubourgs, Montreal, QC, CA

2019 ARTCH. Dorchester Square, Montreal, QC, CA

2018 Once upon water. Artscape Gibraltar Point, Toronto, ON, CA

2017 Graduated Show. FOFA gallery, Montreal, QC, CA


2022 Nebulous Straits. Diasporic Futurisms at Interaccess, Toronto, ON,

2022 Cute/soft, Making space, Calgary, ON

2021 Human Touch. L’imagier, Gatineau, QC

2019-2020 Mentorat Program. Vidéographe, Montreal, QC

2019 ARTCH. Art Souterrain and Conseil des arts de Montréal, Dorchester Square, Montreal, QC

2018 Once Upon Water Residency. Artspace Gibraltar Point, Toronto, ON


2023 Plural Art Fair - Panel about emerging art practices, Montreal,QC

2023 Guest Speaker Drawing program, Emily Carr university of art and design,  Vancouver, BC

2022 Guest Speaker for the Painting and Drawing program, Concordia University, Montreal, QC

2022 In Conversation with curator Sally Frater, Art Gallery of Guelph, Guelph, ON

2022 Curator tour of soft landing, Gallery TPW, Toronto, ON

2022 Roundtable Discussion: Art & S.W.A.N.A. Diasporas, Articule Gallery, Montreal, QC

2021 Panel on, Spillover Love. Gallery Stewart Hall, Pointe-Claire, QC

2021 Conversation with Robert Enright, MFA Open studio, University of Guelph,Guelph, ON

2021 Artist Talk on the exhibition Beneath the willow tree, La central Powerhouse, Montreal, QC

2019 Guest artist of the Sisterhood at the MBAM organised by Never Was Average, Musée des Beaux-arts de Montréal, Montreal, QC


2022 Exhibition Assistance grant, Ontario Art Council, Toronto, ON

2022 Exhibition Assistance grant, Ontario Art Council, Toronto, ON

2021 SSHRC. Canada Graduate Scholarship, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, CA(17 500$)

2021 Travel, research and creation award, University of Guelph, ON

2020 Travel, research and creation award, University of Guelph, ON

2020 Graduate tuition Scholarship, University of Guelph,ON

2019 Production grant for ARTCH program. Art Souterrain and Conseil des arts de Montréal, Montreal, QC

2017 Recipient of CUAA fine art award. Concordia University, Montreal, QC


2020 I’ve never seen a hero like me in a sci-fi – A Conversation Between RajniPerera and Rihab Essayh, Fondation phi, 

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