Harmony Korine: AGGRESSIVE DR1FTER
By ERIC MINH SWENSON September 26, 2023
“I am quite certain that the world is conspiring to make me happy.” – Matthew McConaughey: (Moondog) from the film The Beach Bum (2019) directed by Harmony Korine.
I was a fan of Harmony Korine’s experimental films before I knew of his art. I remember seeing the unrated quasi-documentary Kids in 1995, written by Korine, around the era of John Singleton’s Boyz in the Hood. At the time, this Texas kid was debating a future in New York or Los Angeles. I naively thought that I could evade gang turf wars on the West Coast over the spread of AIDS depicted on the East Coast, that Korine wrote about in Kids – a dystopian nightmare that only took place in one day with a bunch of annoying punk-ass youth having bareback sex spreading a deadly STD. Not my jam.
My early heavy metal tastes were Motley Crüe and Van Halen who were promoting a Hollywood version of kick-ass ladies in bikinis on the Sunset Strip and boardwalks of Venice Beach and Santa Monica. Life on California’s PCH seemed brighter than the mean streets of NYC. I made my decision. Kids irrevocably convinced me to steer clear from the upper East coast, and this steer from Texas looked out West.
Decades later Korine started directing A-list actors with seemingly big budgets in the Miami area notably Spring Breakers and The Beach Bum. Just like Korine, I grew up on Miami Vice and had personal fantasies living it up in South Beach going on drug busts in the world’s sexiest cruise ports. Korine talks highly of Michael Mann who produced Miami Vice and directed Heat who made Biscayne Bay and Long Beach mysteriously “cool” and full of high-powered boats and international espionage. Korine’s Florida liquid narrative films are so tropical-lush that it is hard to avoid comparing them to Michael Bay without steroids. Korine’s Florida afterburn films are hangovers while Bay films are overdoses in a cinematic action film discourse.
Harmony Korine says he is obsessed with color and his current painting exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles punctuates Korine’s hyper-fantastic thermal neon reality. Korine describes the new work as, “paintings carved from color…a total absence from God.”
They are best described as color light energy, much like military infrared thermal imaging with rainbow effects of rainbow assassins and hit men. I have not seen the current film that Korine has done that has influenced these paintings. Regardless, I can definitely see the cinematic approach to his latest work which culminates in Korine’s three decades of artistic production.
See the exhibition on YouTube:
“American artist and filmmaker Harmony Korine will present a new series of acid-hued paintings drawn from his new film ‘Aggro Dr1ft.’ This unprecedented fusion of Korine’s painting and filmic practices expands the irreverent polymath’s exploration of the aesthetics of gaming and their seepage into the wider culture. Korine’s oeuvre is both deliberate and erratic, figurative and abstract, and, like his films, the artist’s paintings blur boundaries between ‘high’ and ‘low’ in ways that simultaneously attract and repel viewers with their hypnotic, otherworldly atmosphere.”
On view September 15, 2023 through January 14, 2024. WM