Embrace The Fold With Gab Cole


You might remember the artist Gabriel Cole from the latest episode from our web series FLATS. Gabe’s a regular dude and a brilliant artist to boot.

Right now, he’s gearing up for a solo show that opens Friday, so we thought we’d better ask him some questions about the show and his plans to pen an autobiography called How I Lost It All (But Kept the Maserati). Read on, bro.

Bro. What’s up with this art show, bro?

Good thanks, and you? Nah. For real, just having a browse, thanks.

Here’s my first question: The artistic process for these new paintings began with automatic drawing, a technique that requires the artist to subdue any conscious control and allow the subconscious to take the driver’s seat and do the art-making. Can you talk about how you do that? Does it involve meditation or drugs, or what?

It involves a process of allowing yourself to get into the right head space. For me, this is being confident and somewhat empty in the mind; no thoughts and distractions. But I’m aware of what the inspiration is: folds in nature and textiles. I like to use the energy of music to make marks, and the sketch process is made with something heavy like a punk track or techno, and that will embody some of the rawness and make me move fast and not predetermine much. Then I solve the puzzle, the image; this is done to some more meditative music that allows an empty and reflective state, and I look for new directions and trying to let the piece dictate what it will be. If it wants to go left–it goes left. I try not to fight it.

In light of your previous career as an athlete, your life as an artist could be considered your second act, but have you always been interested in art?

Not at all. When I was growing up, art wasn’t considered something at all. It was just something you did as a weird hobby–if even that. I was told in school that I was good at two things: drawing and sport, so I could either be a PE teacher or an architect. It wasn’t until I was around 17 that I felt the need to make art. Until that point, I thought art was a toy. In school, I was never interested in learning to draw a vase because I was like, ‘Why a vase?’ So, I didn’t do it. But then I realised it doesn’t have to be a vase and you don’t need to use a pencil. Running gave me the confidence to question things in school and be like, ‘Nah, I’m not drawing that–I’m doing this.’

What’s do you hope people looking at your work think and feel?

To me, the best shows allow the viewer to take away whatever they want; there’s a meaning, but it shouldn’t get in the way of just looking at the picture and feeling something. But in saying that, I want them to feel movement in the same way one feels movement in a musical journey or a good song, and I want to invoke that sense of movement in a two-dimensional format. The works are designed to confuse but to make the viewer also feel at ease; to work and not to work; a balance in chaos. A symphony of nature accidents and occurrences.

What’s Gab Cole’s next move?

A new Poly collection with Jye Barclay, and along with that we’ve been working on a group zine titled Pollution that focuses on the supermarket. I also have some new naughty art-heavy, non-mum friendly merch that I’ve been working on with Bichon Pockets, focusing on union posters.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Running a successful corner shop with room for growth and driving a Camry.

Ten years?

Happily married in a stable job with five employees and driving a Lexus.

50 years?

Divorced four times with an autobiography to be released under the title How I Lost It All (But Kept the Maserati).

Tomorrow?

Making this show. My doctor gave me 50 valiums and told me to take two tablespoons of Inositol powder each night, so I’ll provide feedback in the coming weeks. But it’s also a special period to be making a show, and it’s the only time I get to control my energy and direct it towards making art. It’s a nice feeling. And it’s less about questioning the outcome and more about making it, and with this approach, some of the best results come.

Would you like to finish the interview with a song?

Yes. Here it is.

Gab’s show, Embrace The Fold, opens 6 PM this Friday (May 31) at Backwoods Gallery.
25 Easy St, Collingwood, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 3066.

Also, also, also: check out the playlist Gabe whacked together for us HERE!

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