Heather Gabel and Matt Skiba rule! I’ve been a long-time fan of both their work. The creative pals have joined forces for a new one-night-only collaborative art exhibition—Love In A Void. The event is this Saturday (January 26) 7-10 pm The HiFi bar 169 Ave A in New York City. If you’re in the neighbourhood do go, it’ll be a real treat.
I’m assuming that the title of your upcoming exhibition, Love In A Void, is a reference to the Siouxsie and the Banshees song of the same name? What inspired you guys to choose that name for the show?
HEATHER GABEL: It is, the song title pretty much sums up the essence of the friendship Matt and I have lately. We used to spend almost all of our time together, touring, being room mates when not touring. Now we hardly ever see each other but the friendship carries on, strong as ever, despite the fact that is basically exists in a vacuum.
I know with song lyrics everyone has their own interpretation, for you what is the song about?
HG: Honestly, I don’t know what she is on about in that song. For me it’s the title that I respond to, not the actual lyrics.
MATT SKIBA: That song is about dudes and drugs and punk shit.
I know this is a big question but, what does love mean to you?
HG: For me I see love as unconditional, no judgement, full support and appreciation of another person. Pretty rare.
MS: Love is when you’re afraid to do something but you do it anyways. Oh wait…that’s courage. Love is Lou Diamond Phillips.
What qualities do you guys admire in each other as artists and as people in general?
HG: I admire the sheer volume of work Matt has produced. At the end of the day he just wants to create, to make art and I can totally relate to that. He’s also one of the most considerate and sensitive people I know—really wonderful qualities.
MS: She seems like the type that saves her hair in bags and you can see it in her art.
What were your first impressions of each other when you first met?
HG: I met him because I was dating his best friend. Matt actually didn’t like me at first because of it. We’d always be at the same places but didn’t really talk much, maybe I’d say ‘hi’ to him at a show if I saw him, maybe not. He struck me as someone who seemed light hearted, liked to laugh and have fun. When both of our relationships with his friend ended we realized how close we’d become, pretty much joined at the hip, and have stayed as such since.
MS: I thought she was there to steal my best friend. As it turns out, she was there to replace him.
The artworks for Love In A Void is a collaboration between you both, with Matt laying a foundation of beautiful colour scapes in gauche and Heather building on that collaging over it. How long have you been working with gauche Matt? Why do you like working with it?
MS: This is my first time. I didn’t even know how to pronounce it and was afraid to ask the kid at Blick so, I told him I was “just browsing” when he asked if I needed any help finding anything. It’s a blast to work with. I’m still using it to do more pieces that won’t be in this show.
Heather, what was your process for the collaging part of the art equation?
HG: I laid all of Matt’s paintings out and then searched for images to collage them, based on whatever energy I was getting from each piece. It was one of those times when it seemed like they were making themselves, that I was a conduit, which always feels really pure and honest.
What do you like about collaborating?
MS: I’ve never done it before. It’s so amazing to do this with such a great artist that is such a close friend.
What was your intention with this exhibition?
HG: The challenge. There’s always a minute where I think “Fuck! What am I going to DO with these?” But I make them mine, for a minute and then they are “ours”. I have a hard time with color in my own work, I prefer to just not use it or to use it very sparingly, but with these pieces especially, there was no way for me to do that. Having finished them and getting to take a step back I thought “It works! It works!” It felt very Dr. Frankenstein “It’s alive!” which rules.
Why did you decide you wanted to show the work in NYC?
HG: The venue – The Hifi Bar – in the lower east side was interested in me having a show there but it just seemed more fitting to me to have Matt involved. The Hifi used to be this great dive-y club (Brownies) that we’d be at on tour pretty regularly so, it felt like the perfect opportunity to revisit the past while embracing the present.
What influenced the works for Love In A Void? Is there a particular mood or theme to the pieces?
HG: I simply wanted to make art with my friend. The work that resulted I think belies both the more empty longing side of missing someone as well as the excitement of that desire.
MS: No [mood]. We went in simply with the idea of making the pieces together. I think I knew the name before I began but my main influence was what Heather could do with my shit and vice versa.
Which piece is your favourite from this collection of works? What is it that you love about that specific piece?
HG: The piece we used for the flyer “The White Forest” is my favorite. Matt’s haunting deep, fluid red is anchored with the stark black and white of my collaging. It feels like the most literal visual interpretation of each of us as people to me.
MS: Some of my least favorites initially have become my favorites because of what Heather did to them. I can’t really pick any one piece, especially because I don’t know what they’re called!
DJ January Hunt will be providing the soundtrack for the exhibition evening; what song/s are you hoping to hear?
HG: She is amazing, we have a lot in common where tastes are concerned so I know I’ll hear some old favorites but I’m excited to hear some new (new to me) future classics. What I’m hoping to hear though is music she’s made because I haven’t yet and I’m sure it will be fantastic!
Other than each other, which artists do you feel closest to and which have had the greatest impact on your work?
HG: The art that moves me most in regards to my own is music right now. I’ve been listening to a lot of Chelsea Wolfe, puts me right where I need to be to go inside myself and mine ideas. I can shut out distractions and feel what I’m feeling. Neurosis too, it’s like free psychotherapy. It’s listening to music that puts me somewhere else, somewhere I can see things clearly and find inspiration in a way I can’t by meditating or doing yoga. It’s like a secret path that leads to a cave inside myself is revealed—something I’m really grateful for.
MS: I love [Hieronymus] Bosch and I love [Andy] Warhol. I love [Leonardo] Da Vinci and a whole mess of others that I am in no way trying to replicate. Maybe Andy a little. I adore Warhol.
What projects do you each have on the horizon? Heather you’ve been working on jewellery line The Seventh House and Matt you have a new Alkaline Trio record, is there anything else happening in your world that you could share with us?
HG: Yes! My next event is in Chicago, I’m here right now actually putting the last touches on everything. It’s an art installation conceived of by Anna Cerniglia at Johalla Projects (a gallery here I’ve been working with for years now) in conjunction with the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority). I’ll have five pieces, collages, at the Damen Blue Line station in Wicker Park. It’s going up soon and will be installed for a few months. I’m really excited about it, personally because that’s my old neighbourhood. I love that people that like me as well as people who’d never see my art otherwise will see it just by doing something they’d do anyways, like ride the train. On a grander scale, having art out of a gallery, in public spaces, is pretty much the best thing ever in my opinion. I’m really honored to be one of the artists chosen for it.
Matt: I’ve almost completed Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
You can also peep, a previous interview I did with Heather: Heather Gabel’s Night Visions.
*Art works: 1 – Love In A Void flyer / 2 – The Ability To Live Forever / 3 – Portrait of Prowess / 4 – Drifts / 5 – The White Forest (all art featured are collaborative art pieces by Heather & Matt).