Preview: Harmony Korine “RAIDERS” Art Exhibit @ Gagosian Gallery [Beverly Hills]


© Courtesy of the Artist and Gagosian Gallery – Beverly Hills

Back in my very late teens, I adopted a habit that I could probably benefit from picking up again, a habit that I should have never let go of in the first place.  I became skilled in fast-food scamming, dabbled in face drugs, smoked cigars, shoplifted multi-sound yo-yos and shitty bottles of wine, scoured thrift shops (which I still do), and did twice as many hallucinogenics than any of that, but the one thing out of those now dead elements of my regular routine that I’m referring to is how I constantly had little notebooks on me, at all times, to scrawl out the random ideas that would hit me throughout living my life and doing the rest of them.  One idea might be for a movie scene, while another might pertain to anything from a life-size percussive welded-steel human skeleton to a subliminal gangsta rap verse.  I didn’t know what good these fragments were worth in the abstract states that they existed, and even wondered if they had any value in their disjointed and unfinished form, at all.  When writer/filmmaker/artist, Harmony Korine released the book, A Crackup At The Race Riots in 1998, that question was answered soundly: they’re worth a lot.

There was a ton of hype surrounding director, Larry Clark‘s controversial and unorthodox Korine-penned hedonistic 1995 teen drama, KIDS, but it wasn’t until Harmony released his beautifully stark directorial debut, Gummo, 2 years later, that I truly embraced his work and became a fan for the first time.  Gummo was 100% the young auteur’s vision and delivery, and was so raw that more than a few people had to have left convinced that it was a documentary.  Although listed as a “novel” on wikipedia, A Crackup… possessed nothing close to the type of standard cohesion that such a label would imply, presenting random disconnected ideas, hazy vignettes, and floating musings, a hefty percentage of which weren’t even supported by any additional context.  Each page/idea was like another pulse, an oscillating moment, like a breath of, if not sometimes a gasp for, life.  Not unlike Gummo before it, the book was fueled by perfect moments offered up for the spectator to experience wholly.  But a book, which you can so easily choose to sift through, or put down all together, can be much more easily dismissed as “garbage” and/or accused of being aimless scrawlings, especially when the interpretation is so wide open and the poorly typed, or handwritten content is so seemingly disconnected.  A film, on the other hand, feels like more of a solid statement in ones rejection of it; you don’t simply put it down, you walk out of it, or shut it off — your emotional reaction activates a very tangible and physical one.  It isn’t something that simply was “not worth” your time, anymore, it has “stolen” your time, maybe even provoked or left one feeling violated in some fashion.  [Read our post of the 13-year-old girl reviewing Korine’s Spring Breakers, for a perfect example of such disgust in action].  I can feel candy and lard in my gut, or fattening me up, but eat some raw food, breathe fresh air, or simply drink straight poison, and you will feel each of them penetrating deeper into your being, in one way or another.

Many were repelled by the directness of such pure, unbuffered content in works like Gummo, and later Julien Donkey Boy, which are often buoyed in uncomfortable waters and the uncertainty of authentic feeling and emotion, without so much concern with overt dialog, strict unpliable framing, and arrows instructing them where to look.  Korine has often referred to his process in almost scientific terms, expressing a focus on setting up the chemicals and simply allowing to them interact, so that he can document the explosions.  By collecting/arranging the pieces and letting them ricochet off of each other and unfold, it allows him to offer the viewer a more genuine experience, little untethered moments and pockets of core emotion.  Too “direct” for many, the viewers are often left less directed and, more so, organically drawn to certain elements in the “director’s” work.  Nothing’s more uncomfortable than being forced to take ownership of your own fucked up uncomfortable interpretations, reality, and perspectives — it’s on you.  In your everyday life, it’s your eye that glances to the peripheral to slyly peer at someone undressing through a cracked door, watch them cooking in their kitchen in a upper-level apartment as you walk through their neighborhood, or checking for bodies in the wreckage of a highway car crash on your way home from work.  And while many have found a strong aversion to his works, others, like myself, were powerfully drawn to it and have been making others uncomfortable by introducing them to this material ever since.

Some fuck in an attempt to manifest love into the physical plane, while others utilize the exact same actions to forget that they’ll never experience any.  Whether you fall into a combination of either as you stumble through this chaotic, bewildering, and murky existence, most of us are trying to obtain something “real” through our actions, attempting to touch and experience the feelings and truths behind them that these actions are meant to facilitate.  Our physical tools are also our barriers, as is our unwillingness and inability to move beyond the rigid, formulaic methods established and passed down to us forever ago.  During one now-infamous 1997 appearance on Letterman, Korine explained  that he believes “that a film needs a beginning, middle, and end, but just not necessarily in that order.”  The truth is that life doesn’t really exist as a series of events unfolding linearly; the pieces are strewn all over the place and we as individuals who are obsessed with locating order within it, arbitrarily attribute our own importance to one event over another, creating our own narratives.  Those of you who read my detailedmulti-installment review of Spring Breakers already know that one reason that I consider it to be the best film that I saw in 2013 was because it felt more like I was experiencing the film than watching others live it out.  In other words, it was engrossing.  The same lack of a defined storyline and structure that allowed me to absorb the film in 4 dimensions, frustrated and even outright infuriated so many of those who rely on cinema to provide them with a very narrow and predefined set of eyes — too much ambiguity undermines the very essence of what so many watch motion pictures to obtain: certainty, structure, order, and meaning that is missing from their everyday lives outside of it.

You may or may not be aware that Harmony Korine has been dipping his feet into the fine art world since the beginning.  Furthermore, he has an exhibit of new paintings titled, Raiders, opening tomorrow at Gagosian Gallery in Beverly HillsGagosian is concurrently hosting another month-long exhibit of his work at Eden Rock Gallery in St. Jean, St. Barthélemy, which opened on December 28th.  In Korine‘s paintings, you’ll find similar elements to those in his film-work, expressionistic pieces that can be easily written off as directionless shams by detractors and recognized as suspended, radiating, moments by others.  Are the figures that I see living behind the layers and defining these compositions for me placed there intentionally?  I don’t know, and I’m honestly not too concerned with finding out.  It just feels as if he’s taking these various components (house paint, collage, ink, oil) and giving life to them.  For the most part, I’m not even, generally, much of a fan of abstract expressionist paintings; most of the time, they appear lifeless to me.  I really didn’t know what to expect from Harmony‘s work in this field, before seeing them, but I know that these appear to be anything but dead; I can feel an energy within these pieces.  Others may experience absolutely nothing from them, the exact same way that I have with many works elsewhere.  Was the film Trash Humpers nothing but Korine, his wife, and a friend, wrecking shit up, and pulling out all sorts of deviant behavior in elderly masks?  Technically, yes.  Do I completely understand why nobody would find any personal worth in something like that?  Of course I do, but I can only address what I personally respond to, which is the point of me having this site, in the first place.  Likewise, the work that comprises Raiders is just a bunch of paint and colors applied to canvas — and, in at least one case, a blanket — not entirely unlike any other piece of “fine art”… but I like it.  I reached out to Gagosian to have them some send over a handful of preview images for the exhibit, which they graciously accommodated.  Now I’m posted them in the hope that you might find a connection with them, as well.

Preview images can be viewed below the following event details, courtesy of the Gagosian – Beverly Hills.  Maybe we should both read them, there’s probably something interesting in here.


“I’ve long been interested in loops, mistakes, trance-y repetition.  It’s like writing a novel with pages missing in all the right places.”
—Harmony Korine

Gagosian Beverly Hills is pleased to present new paintings by Harmony Korine.

Korine’s cult films of the past twenty years—from the surreal Gummo (1997) to Spring Breakers (2012), a contemporary film noir in which four college freshwomen are drawn into a murderous labyrinth of events—merge reality with fiction and hand-held camerawork with precise montage. This heady mix of the unplanned, the seductive, and the outlandish crystallizes in his lesser known, highly tactile paintings. Eschewing brush and professional paint in favor of Squeegees, leftover household paint, and masking tape, he creates loosely sequential images that echo the sonic and visual leitmotifs of his films. The accumulative hypnotic effect of the paintings is offset by lifelike randomness and impulsive energy.

To create Raider Burst (2014), Korine stuck overlapping segments of masking tape to the center of an unprimed canvas, then used a broom to spread primary red, yellow, and blue dyes over the surface. He then removed the tape to reveal bright, irregular stars shining through colorful mists; the final composition is characterized by a spontaneous, explosive radiance. Other paintings are inhabited by shadowy, clawed creatures reminiscent of Goya’s ghastly Caprices, obscured by layers of housepaint, sprayed with letters, and repainted over the course of several years.

Canvases covered in rows of painted circles and squares yield sudden variations that vacillate between considered and spontaneous mark-making, while rainbow-hued, striated paintings comprising hundreds of horizontal lines hint at distant perspectives. Korine sticks pieces of bubble wrap, plastic, and paper to the canvas as he works, imbuing the optical depths with physical relief. These fossilized scraps embody dual narratives: as literal records of process, their skeletal silhouettes also suggest drifting specters, echoing the animated wraiths of more overtly figurative works such as Little Shawshank and W. Hulk Felix. Deliberate and erratic, repetitious and random, Korine’s paintings are born of fierce life forces, conflictual yet interdependent.

Korine lives and works in Nashville, TN.



Gagosian Gallery Presents
: A solo exhibit by Harmony Korine


Saturday, January 10th



Gagosian Gallery
456 N. Camden Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210



Show on view until Saturday, February 14th, 2015
Gallery hours: Tues. – Sat. 10am – 6pm
Facebook Event Page:

[click images to enlarge]

KORIN 2014 87

© Harmony Korine. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Josh White/

Skinamax Chex, 2014
Ink, house paint, oil, and collage on canvas
93 x 124 inches
236.2 x 315 cm

KORIN 2014 79

© Harmony Korine. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Josh White/

Creol Teen Revolutions, 2014
House paint, oil, and collage on canvas
124 x 93 inches
315 x 236.2 cm

KORIN 2014 91

© Harmony Korine. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Josh White/

Fex Chex, 2014
House paint, acrylic, oil, and collage on canvas
124 x 93 inches
315 x 236.2 cm

KORIN 2014 105

© Harmony Korine. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Josh White/

Scubby Line, 2014
House paint, oil, and collage on canvas
124 x 93 inches
315 x 236.2 cm

Korine Studio 1

© Harmony Korine. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Harmony Korine

Korine Studio, Nashville, 2014

Korine Studio 2

© Harmony Korine. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Harmony Korine

Special Needs Chex, 2014
House paint, oil, and collage on canvas
102 x 84 inches / 259.1 x 213.4 cm

Korine Studio 5

© Harmony Korine. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Harmony Korine

Pajama Reststops, 2014
House paint, acrylic, and oil on safety blanket
70 x 64 inches / 177.8 x 162.6 cm

Dead C

Located in Seattle, Dead C is the founder/editor, as well as the principal writer and photographer, of Monster Fresh. Creating the site in 2007, he did so with a specific dream in mind. Unfortunately, being a muscle relaxer-fueled fever dream, it's hard to recall all of the details. "I remember that my mom was there, but it wasn't actually her in the dream, it was actually 70s heart throb, Jan Michael Vincent. And everything took place here, in this room... but it wasn't actually here... it was different. The colors were washed out and, for some reason, there was a raccoon kicking it with us and it was wearing a holographic monocle."

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