EntertainmentArts & CelebritiesHarmony Korine's 'AGGRESSIVE DR1FTER' At Hauser & Wirth

Harmony Korine’s ‘AGGRESSIVE DR1FTER’ At Hauser & Wirth


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I was searching for the right word to describe Harmony Korine whose first painting exhibition for Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles, ‘AGGRESSIVE DR1FTER’ recently opened and will be on view through January 14, 2024. Korine is the purveyor of a singular aesthetic expressed in a variety of mediums. In the end, what came to mind is that Korine is, in the parlance of the youngs, a creator.

Korine first came to public attention as a screenwriter for Larry Clark’s Kids which premiered when Korine was just 22. He subsequently became a filmmaker of independent and experimental films, including Gummo, Julien Donkey-Boy, and Mister Lonely, and more conventional films including Spring Breakers (with Selena Gomez, James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ahsley Benson) and The Beach Bum (which had Matthew McConaughey, Isla Fisher, Maring Lawrence and Snoop Dogg). Korine has made several TV specials with magician and illusionist David Blaine. At the same time, over the years, Korine’s photography and painting have been exhibited in galleries all over the world. This is his first exhibition in LA in over eight years.

More recently as Korine shared at the Hauser & Wirth press preview, he’d become “bored with conventional narrative” and “2D film,” and was searching for a form that would merge Art, Music, and Gaming. He was looking for, in his words, “What comes next” which he imagined as ‘immersive vibe-based vapors.”

Over a period of two years Korine shot what was, at first, an experiment. Along the way, a narrative plot emerged for the resultant film, called “Aggro Dr1ft,” a story about a hitman in a post-apocalyptic world.

For the look of his film, Korine got access to very high-resolution infrared cameras used by NASA. “We came up with this look that was close to the idea of being inside of a video game,” Korine told the German art historian Isabelle Graw. “It felt completely immersive and closer almost to a drug experience.”

In the film, “The figures start to have this other strange quality, sometimes ghost-like,” Korine said. “They call identity into question, blur the line between what’s real and what’s not real. It’s like a dystopian vision where color becomes like a character in the film. It’s almost science fiction.”

The paintings on exhibit are based on the film and resemble thermal imagery of individuals (or cyborgs) in a hallucinatory color-saturated environment. The names of the paintings seem drawn from video games such as Ravetek14, 6Linx, and Mant1x Faze. In some of the images the characters are wearing masks, goggles and jumpsuits (some hooded). In several the characters seem dressed in battle gear or are firing weapons.

“I wanted to make paintings that feel like they’re basically alive,” Korine said. “I wondered if one can make works and imagery that look like nothing has preceded them?”

The paintings are vivid in color, if not alive. They are original but are neither without precedent or reference – from Elliott Landy’s infrared portrait of Bob Dylan to the Terminator films, the Mole Men of Science Fiction films, or the characters in single person shooter video games. Korine’s paintings seem very much borne from the world of film and video games and one can very well imagine them at home on the walls of an LA case study house or a Malibu beach house.

In a small room off to the side, there are several video installations. “The videos are like moving paintings.” Korine said, calling them portraits of “Rainbow assassins.” I found the videos both more disturbing and less successful than the paintings. The videos seem to glorify the first-person shooter violence of video games.

Korine described this world as existing where there is an “absence of God” reminding me of Dostoyevsky who asks in The Brothers Karamazov: ‘But what will become of men then?’ I asked him, ‘without God and immortal life? All things are permitted then, they can do what they like?'” In Korine’s videos the answer is a deadly ‘Yes’.

Korine’s work envelops the viewer in the tension that is unsettling and haunting yet graphically bright and intense, a world of vapors and being vaporized.



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