Pacific Heights – Lot 23 May 25, 2016

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Musician/DJ/producer Pacific Heights (Devin Abrams) and graphic designer/illustrator Matthew Eales debuted their collaborative multimedia art and music exhibition, The Stillness, at Auckland’s Lot 23. This was the second and final gallery event, the first being in Abrams and Eales’ hometown of Wellington. Lot 23 is a creative mixed space, serving as a both a café and an art house. Patrons enter through the understated café, and then lulled back through a corridor to the gallery, where Eales’s twelve digital illustrations hung up against a black backdrop, with Abrams intermittently behind the DJ booth and mingling with fans as his new album played in the background on loop.

The Stillness is Abrams’s first album since 2008 for his solo project Pacific Heights, which was created in 2002. This long absence has culminated into one of his deepest, darkest albums, transpiring at one of the most difficult times in the artist’s life. The Stillness delivers themes around death and dying, suicide, and existential anxieties. The intensive collaboration was Eales was an organic one. What was meant to be an album cover sprawled into Eales creating an individual piece for each track on the album. Originally the art inspired by music, but evolved and also created music that was inspired by the art.

Eales choose a black and white palette, which suited the dress code of the album preview, with most patrons decked out in monochrome. Using clean lines, negative space, and motifs of birds set in an abstract background, the only human aspect to it is the use of hands, such as in Snare. Mixed with the vibes from The Stillness and the foreboding nature given to his illustrations’s titles, Eales is able to heavily anthropomorphize his subject with minimal drama but no lack of emotion. By the end of the event three quarters of Eales’s single edition, beautifully self-framed digital illustrations had sold.

Despite the heart-heavy tone of The Stillness, the scene at Lot 23 was quite jovial. A small, intimate gathering, about 30 or so people filled out the gallery, with everyone talking excitedly among friends. It was somewhat unusual having neo-soul/electro-ambience paired with such a stationary art medium, with light shows or videography being conventional. The Stillness however, is not very conventional. Abrams and Eales have created something unique, and showcases what electricity can happen when artists are able to create on their own timeline and terms.