Harmony Korine brings Nashville to New York's Upper East Side 

Sharp Shooters

Sharp Shooters

A lot of it doesn't make sense. The gallery isn't in Chelsea or SoHo, but on New York's Upper East Side. The exhibition's opening was on a Monday. And the artist, who was showing seven paintings so new that the paint was literally still wet, isn't a New York artist — whatever that means — but a Nashvillian. But read the fine print and you'll understand why Shooters opened with a line of people waiting at the gallery's entrance, and rumors that all of the paintings had sold started circulating immediately afterward. The ground floor gallery is the newest addition to contemporary art heavyweight Larry Gagosian's impressive roster, and its location on 75th and Park puts it spitting distance from the Whitney and New York's Museum Mile. And this isn't just any Nashvillian — this is Harmony Korine.

Korine has been an art world darling ever since he collaborated with Larry Clark to turn Washington Square Park into a hyperreal movie set with Kids, and 2012's Spring Breakers solidified his place as a David Lynch for the post-MTV generation. But celebrity status doesn't necessarily translate to critical acclaim — just ask James Franco, Korine's Spring Breakers star, who was practically laughed out of the Pace Gallery where he exhibited his Cindy Sherman-aping New Film Stills last month. New York Times critic Roberta Smith began her review of the show by saying that Franco "should just stick to acting. He remains embarrassingly clueless when it comes to art."

But Korine is not Franco, and his paintings, the first he's shown in a solo exhibition since the 1990s, are stellar. The two enormous "Check" paintings — "Tornado Check" and "Checker Pasts" — are like pee-stained patchwork quilts that blur into television static at a distance. The "Flex" paintings use spray paint to ghostly effect that is equal parts childish and gas-huffing visionary. And "Starburst," the brightly colored anchor piece of the room, is a Spirograph of primary colors as intricate as a Persian rug. Shooters may not redefine New York's conception of Nashville's contemporary art scene — but for a city looking for alternative venues in upper-crust neighborhoods and alternative artists in cerebral counterculture auteurs, a fresh outlook might be just the thing it needs.

Email arts@nashvillescene.com.

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