It was as we were leaving the Gagosian's premises along Davies Street that I was struck by a question. Moments before we stepped out into cold Mayfair, Harmony Korine arrived - no announcements, no fanfare, but there he was with his family in the corner. At any other opening reception it would surely be customary to go and congratulate the artist, especially after enjoying the work, but here it feels awkward and invasive - almost unthinkable.

Admittedly, it may have just been my social ineptitude, but I had to wonder if that inability to go over was due to a perhaps misplaced sense of mystifying celebrity. So how much of the public reception to Harmony Korine's work as a visual artist will be informed by this notion of fame - do I just think it's good because I'm supposed to? Korine's films, though loved by many, are sometimes accused of having an Emperor's New Clothes effect - is this then, unwittingly, the case with his art? Conversely, will people be predisposed to find his art pretentious if they think his films are?

Thankfully, Fazors proves my neurotic rhetorical questions aren't worth worrying about. Ultimately, knowledge of Korine's film oeuvre is inextricably linked to how one considers his work here, but that's no bad thing. An awareness of that sense of montage which pervades his films - of that distinct way Korine captures feeling rather than narrative - seems impossible not to have in mind when examining the colourful, undulating circles on display here.

 photo HARMONY KORINE Scapp Willter Circle 2015_GG_zpsrlruegik.jpg

At first glimpse, the paintings are relatively unremarkable: five canvases with what appears to be the same motif of concentric, wavy circles - simply with different colours. Their brightness is striking against the white enclosure of the Gagosian, sure, but it is only in examining each of them one by one that a subtle yet captivating sense of energy seems to emerge.

Indeed, on closer inspection, this is not just ritualistic, almost fetishistic repetition of the same design on each canvas. On the left wall, as you enter, the blues and whites and yellows seem almost to ripple warmly in front of your eyes like heat refracting off a hot pavement. At times it feels like Korine is invoking the psychedelic optical illusions of Bridget Riley. Calming and subdued, the central motifs bring Buddhist chakras to mind and perhaps in his seeking to capture a moment or a feeling, Korine's work intentionally radiates a state of meditativeness.

But perhaps not: the canvas hanging on the wall opposite, which bookends the collection, isn't exactly calm. On the surface it's that same design, but the brush technique is more scratchy, agitated impasto - the colours are distinctly bolder, less blended together (with the notable addition of red).

 photo HARMONY KORINE Watermellon Circle 2015_GG_zpsxoxosudj.jpg

In the press surrounding the show, there have been nods to the palettes of Robert Delaunay and Helen Frankenthaler, and while Korine's mastery of colour is pretty wonderful (the use of a dark purple on one of the paintings is particularly striking), he's certainly not up there yet. But nor is this a case of the Emperor's New Clothes - there is an undeniable sense of reverential energy that seems to emanate from each canvas, whether the trancelike state pulls you in or drives you out. Whether Korine is a celebrity or not is irrelevant: this is an aesthetically pleasing collection of art.

Korine has said in an interview that each circle painting is never-ending, and that seems the perfect way to encapsulate what he does on film: capturing a moment, a thought, a feeling - whether good or bad - and revelling in that. If that was the aim, then Fazors is a success.

Fazors is open until 24th of March 2016.

Credits

HARMONY KORINE
Watermellon Circle, 2015
Oil on canvas
64 x 70 inches
162.6 x 177.8 cm
© Harmony Korine. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian Gallery. Photo: Robert McKeever


HARMONY KORINE
Scapp Willter Circle, 2015
Oil on canvas
84 x 102 inches
213.4 x 259.1cm
© Harmony Korine. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian Gallery. Photo: Robert McKeever