Steven Soderbergh retired from filmmaking to take up paintings, but won’t show anyone his artwork. Is there something confessional about painting?
Harmony Korine: I don’t think they’re confessional. I think they’re similar to the films, and the films are similar to the writings. They’re unified. Ever since I was a kid and I started making artwork and movies, I always viewed it as the same thing. There was a unified aesthetic. I never made a hierarchy out of what I was producing. I became more known for the movies, and that took over my life. I always wanted to make things and create.
How would you define “fazor” paintings?
Harmony Korine: I just kind of made the word up. The show title, “Fazors”, it’s more that, with everything, I try to tap into something that’s more inexplicable or closer to a feeling. I try to make paintings that don’t have a fixed point, that are alive and moving.
They remind me of your Bonnie “Prince” Billy music video. How would you describe the energy you’re going for with these paintings?
Harmony Korine: That’s really it. There’s something drug-like, almost. It’s not so conceptually based. It’s more like a hit. There’s a physical component that washes over you.
You’re known for pushing the medium with film. Are you trying to do the same with painting?
Harmony Korine: I don’t think I can ever do the same thing with painting that I did with movies. I started making movies at a time when I had a very specific vision, and I was lucky enough that I could really play with the medium. I could really push it forward. At least for me, I could invent my own language. With painting, the history is so deep and so long, that if you really look, almost everything has in some fashion been done.
One day Larry Clark was sitting by the fountain in Washington Square Park when 18-year-old Korine struck up a conversation and told him about a script he’d written about a teenager whose alcoholic father gets him a prostitute for his 13th birthday. “He commented on my Leica and mentioned Robert Frank,” Clark remembers. “How many 18-year-old kids know Robert Frank?” The following year, Clark needed a script for Kids and gave Korine a call.
The movie turned Rosario Dawson and Chloë Sevigny, Korine’s then-girlfriend, into stars. “Harmony has this sort of seductive nature that you can really get wrapped up in,” Sevigny says. “Any little note or letter he’d leave behind for me—from his wording to the little drawing that he’d make in it—every single thing he did was a work of art.”
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.
- Gummo (1997)
- Julien Donkey-Boy (1999, uncredited)
- Mister Lonely (2007)
- Trash Humpers (2009)
- Spring Breakers (2013)
- The Trap (2016)
Spring Breakers es una película estadounidense policial y de comedia dramática de 2013 escrita y dirigida por Harmony Korine y protagonizada por James Franco, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Rachel Korine, Heather Morris y Gucci Mane. La película sigue a cuatro jóvenes en edad universitaria que deciden robar un restaurante de comida rápida con el fin de pagar por sus vacaciones de primavera.
Pero eso es solo el principio. Durante una noche de fiesta, las chicas son arrestadas con cargos por drogas. Con resaca y vestidas solo con sus bikinis, comparecen ante un juez, pero son liberadas inesperadamente por Alien (James Franco), un matón local traficante de armas y drogas que las toma bajo su ala y las lleva a las vacaciones más salvajes de la historia. Duro por fuera, pero con un lado amable, Alien se gana el corazón de las chicas, y las llevará en un viaje que nunca olvidarán.
In the story of Harmony Korine’s reinvention, Rachel Korine has played perhaps the biggest role. The two met soon after she graduated high school; she left her waitressing job to accompany him to a castle in the Scottish highlands, where he was filming 2007’s Mister Lonely (she played Little Red Riding Hood). “When we met, I would come over and there would be a box of Hot Pockets and a liter of Coca-Cola in the fridge,” says Rachel, 29, as she gives me a tour of their West Nashville home, which is filled with midcentury furniture and works by Kelley, Colen, and Josh Smith. Now Korine’s days are consumed with Lefty’s soccer games and his five-mile runs. Rachel can also handle her husband’s need to sometimes be on his own: When Korine was finishing the script for his latest film, she urged him to go to their house in Miami and be alone, so he could think.
What emerged from that retreat is The Trap, a forthcoming revenge drama about a yacht-robbing crew in Miami that Korine describes as “ultra-violent and very impressionistic.” The film, he says, will star Franco, Benicio Del Toro, Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, and Idris Elba, and is meant to feel “like a drug experience.” After a rare pause, he explains that he is always trying to visually “assault” the viewer—whether in his films or art, or in his constantly evolving new obsessions that have yet to find a particular medium. “If I try something and it doesn’t work out, what’s the big deal?” he asks rhetorically. “I mean, I’ve never seen an opera, but I still feel like I could make one. I don’t think there’s a limit to what you can do.”