Harmony Korine
June 13, 2014
BY Derek Blasberg

June 13, 2014

Was it difficult for acclaimed filmmaker Harmony Korine to switch gears for, "Shooters," his show of paintings that opened last month? Nah. As he tells Derek Blasberg in a chat about the exhibition, "I never really differentiated between the forms; it was more about acting on specific impulses and creative urges, or even just about access to whatever was in front of me." For more on Harmony and his work, go to Harmony Korine.

You’re in Nashville right now. I know you grew up there and graduated from high school down there. Why have you gone back?
It’s a little bit easier for me to navigate things down here. I understand it pretty well. It’s comfortable, easier to work. I can disappear and do my own thing.
When did you move back?
I bought a house down here six years ago.

I grew up in Missouri, and sometimes I fantasize about moving back there: the slower pace, knowing where everything is and how it works.
It made sense. I have access to studios and houses and places that make it easier to create. There aren’t that many people around, which I like, too.

When did you start painting?
Even before making films, before I got into filmmaking as a teenager, I was always messing around with paint, and pretty much all forms of art interested me. Writing, movies, and painting: I always tried to do everything and have it come from the same place, create a kind of personal universe, create my own internal language, my own unified aesthetic. I didn’t really worry about it too much or question where anything came from. I never really differentiated between the forms; it was more about acting on specific impulses and creative urges, or even just about access to whatever was in front of me at the time.

How would you describe the relationship between moviemaking and painting?
The experiences all inform each other. I want them to be connected in energy and impulse and color and trance, to be raw and magical, everything and nothing. It all goes back and forth—movies, artwork, writing—and they all dance for each other.

Filmmaking is more of a team sport, whereas painting is solitary. Do you prefer one to the other?
Painting is done more in private. Maybe that’s why it’s been so personal, and why I’ve done it mostly away from the general art world until now. I’ve enjoyed that a lot. It was mostly my own thing. But it started to feel like I needed to share it now and put it out into the world.

Why now? This will be your first traditional art show.
The paintings got bigger and I became more excited about the work. It became more complex, and creating them became a larger part of my life. I have taken painting more seriously the last couple of years and focused on it more. I connected to the work in a way I hadn’t in the past, and I decided to put it all out there.

The gallery is not in a part of New York that I think many people will identify with your work: the Upper East Side.
That’s true. But I liked the idea of it being in a new neighborhood and it being a strange place for the paintings to exist—I liked it for that very reason. It’s pretty weird for them to be there, considering where they came from, in fact.

The opening of an artist’s exhibition is bit like a movie premiere in that it’s the first chance for an audience to react to a work that they’ve never seen. Do you still get the jitters?
Nah, I’m just excited to put it out there. I just go with it.

If you had to do a self-critique, how would you describe the works?
They’re kind of energy-based paintings, I guess. It’s difficult to articulate. They are raw, pretty primitive, somewhat base, full of action, fraught with mistakes. It’s a feeling I’m chasing, which is the same thing with my films. I don’t want a clear picture. I’m not concerned with answers. I’m after the process and strangeness of it all.