Korin Faught is a painter. Seems to be a fairly simple description, yes. But painting isn’t her sole attribute — she is an artist not only by trade but from need and urgency. She’s also one of Los Angeles’ rising stars with a growing stable of distinguished collectors, including Tool’s Adam Jones and Boing Boing’s David Pescovitz. Lo Pan sat down with Faught, polished off a couple of bottles of wine, and delved into what compels her vividly unique style. He returned with this missive…
Los Angeles plays host to the embodiment of caricature. As character may be defined as integrity and strength — I do what I say and I say what I do — caricature would be defined as the exponential swelling and tumorous-like growths of particular features or traits which vaguely resemble the origin yet embody the exaggeration of the impulse, detriment or flaw. Essentially, a cartoon. In some unique cases, the distorted reality lives happily with the stark reality. For example, Beverly Hills and East LA. It’s this idea which makes Los Angeles unique, inimitable. These particular concepts swell just about everything: money, fame, ideas, products, lips, boobs, cars, shows, art, dishonesty… in a simplified etymology: Hype. Hype and dis-authenticity swarms industry, and nothing is sacred. Inclusive to all creative energies. In the early 90′s it seemed everyone wanted to be in bands. Then everyone wanted to be actors. Those who failed witnessed from the outside a blossoming and reinvented Los Angeles art community carving out its place in the bold-faced headlines. Within a short time, everyone in 2000 wanted to start a limited edition t-shirt shop, sneaker store, designer toy store with a gallery space. When those spaces failed and the inflated price of select art superstars rose, the failed musicians and actors now aspire to be artists. That is Los Angeles in a nutshell. It is unlike any other art market, set apart by it’s unabashed cloning, pose, irreverence, ignorance and excess. At the same time it is these qualities which make it entertaining and interesting. Certainly theater. In an art world filled with pretenders and wannabes, choked up on graffiti and street art, cartooned overdosed by Pop-Surrealists, there still remains an intellectual and diverse center filled with inventive, imaginative, thoughtful and determined artists. These are the artists that one needs to watch. These are the pieces one would want to and should collect. Here lies depth in work.
I think it worth mentioning that Art Center, Cal Arts and Otis are all located in Los Angeles. Art Center is unique in its diversity and location, presenting students and hopefuls with business savvy tools and inherited technique — a chance to design the car of the future or paint the whims of high art. Pasadena is more accessible to the artist-drawn landscape of Silverlake and Echo Park, a sort of “Hive” for young artists. Equivalent to what the downtown loft scene was many years ago — e.g. running into future art stars like Mike Kelley while waiting for keg beer. No wonder it was easy to meet a pack of aspiring painters at a keg party in early 2000-and-something; the initiation into the painter pack was somewhat stereotypically bohemian (make out session in a parked econo-sized car, excessive liqueur sampling and timely ‘Revolutionary’ scaped conversations). All three painters I met in the pack became contenders. All provocative and intelligent in their approach. Meet Korin Faught. A painter in the pack who at the time of our first meeting was dressed in a Girl Scout outfit, while we watched women wrestle in an inflatable pool. Ah, Joi De Vie! At first read this might elude the descriptions of thought-provoking and intelligence, but knowing Korin and her friends, it’s the provocation that is intelligent and her study of a certain duality inside all of us.
I sat down with Korin Faught at her studio in Silverlake to discuss Korin Faught, ‘the Artist’. Inclusive to the conversation were discussions on life, family and environment playing a role in her creative approach, old stories, new directions, evolution of work, the artist’s process, collectors, technique, tastes and a few old friends which will remain nameless.
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I start the conversation by disclaiming that I won’t bore her with a Q & A, instead we’ll talk like friends, share information and at the end we’ll have some discovery and all in all a nice conversation. She agrees to the disclaimer. Korin shows me around her studio (offset in a nice nook of a Spanish style Villa). She is working on a canvas placed on an easel under a fairly bright photographer’s studio light. I sit on a chair and she sits across on a stool, and it becomes readily apparent that we are in some ways positioned like interviewer/interviewee, which I quickly attempt to diffuse. I ask her about the set-ups for her subject matter. Korin begins to explain that her approach to uncovering her desired subject matter starts first with her model, a set, a costume, some direction and a camera. Korin paints what she captures in life: an emotion, an action, a position and an environment — initially, all through the lens of a camera. You can say her creative process is part photography, fashion (Korin designs and fabricates the clothes and costumes that her models are portrayed in), and paint. Somewhat unique and arduous, however very thoughtful and controlled. Korin will settle on a picture featuring the mood and emotion that strikes her best out of a set of photos and it is this which becomes her subject. In what is essentially ‘staged’, the emotion is authentic. Perhaps maybe too authentic as we uncovered in conversation. Korin had disclosed a concept for a future set of works, mainly themed as “beach-inspired”. As the conversation evolved the visuals from the descriptions were somewhat David LaChapelle meets Rembrandt, and the ‘over-the-top’ dishonesty and staged element — the somewhat Super-Sized theme — is the driving factor. Perhaps this inflated and cardboard reality is influenced by her self described ‘lo-fi’ process, and her curiosity to inflate this process aligned with her fondness for all things Jungian. Stay tuned to see if this comes to fruition.
In regards to her current work, several continuous themes play out in her paintings. I think it most striking that a fairly young, contemporary artist draws similar style elements from some of the old Dutch Masters. It is certainly hard not to compare elements of Korin’s work to Johannes Vermeer or Jan Van Eyck. Themes of duplicity, alienation, loneliness, unsureness and uncertainty, customs, conventionalisms, self-discovery and emptiness are prevalent. Continuous color schematics dominate, mainly contrasts involving small color splashes with ‘Puritan White’ , accented by natural light study, usually generated from a large window or an out-of-site aperture. In describing her influence for these themes, Korin explains somewhat falsely that she has an affinity for bonnets and white. As she dives deeper into her explanation she reveals that she draws from certain environmental stimuli; there is a solitude generated from her experience living in a small Colorado town. As she explains it, a town which had less than a hundred kids in her class, where there was little to do other than what kids do when there is little to do: take drugs, have sex and try to relate.
In addition Korin sorts through her misunderstandings and inability to relate to conventional religious beliefs and practices. She was enrolled in a Christian school and was immediately subjected to physical punishment. Her teacher wanted to spank her and as Korin describes it, there was a refusal and challenge to the punishment which resulted in a call from the Principal and an eventual ultimatum resorting in her mother pulling Korin from the school. Once explained, the quasi-religious incongruousness, tones, and misunderstandings which are portrayed in her paintings — usually illustrated as what one would perceive as somewhat old-world and “Amish” in look — comes full circle in her reluctant fascination with and distaste for religion, ultimately resulting in her inability to relate to conventional metaphysical customs, ceremony and traditions. This is true in her works which display multiples of the same person, reacting to either an outside stimulus or something within. Notably in the paintings “Stairwell” and “Believers“, there is a sense of uncertainty, eroticism, duality and depravity. Almost a moral argument within and the disconnection between the erotic self and that of the spiritual self, as if they are not meant to coexist with each other…yet it is one in the same. Religious conventions are prevalent in the physical work, the painted panel itself. Certainly her large Triptych titled “Echos” which portrays a women in several ‘roles’ of herself. Triptychs are fairly common in Byzantine religious art, as well as the illustrated description of the stages of one’s life or struggle or an influential event (e.g. Triptychs portraying an angel delivering a message of great spiritual importance). It is evident that these images have influenced Korin, yet she substitutes a mythological for a ‘real-life’ narrative. A narrative which certainly can be described as introspective, and grappling with one’s proverbial role in society.
The conversation continues and eventually turns into a glass of wine and a discussion involving a few mutual friends, describing misgivings, short comings, sexual exploits, woulda – coulda – shoulda’s, etc. After several humorous diversions, I ask Korin about the didactic deliberation — her technique. We talk about brush strokes and being able to see the paint brush and the paint on a canvas and the fascination of masterful strokes like Mark Ryden, in whose work one is unable to detect obvious brush strokes. Korin explains that she wants her paintings to be paintings. She prefers to see the involvement and marriage between hand, brush, paint and canvas. In paintings such as “Salad Days“, Korin displays a deliberate brush stroke: loose yet contained and elegant. Again, a study with natural light somewhat reminiscent of Post Impressionist painters, particularly Paul Cezanne, with a blend of mid-century tones. I personally am particularly fond of the loose brush stroke. Unarguably, Korin’s blend of Dutch picture realism with subtle hints of Post Impressionist influences, combined with this anachronistic subject matter, makes Korin Faught a dynamic painter. It’s important to note that Korin paints big. The Triptych is nearly 14 feet in length.
Finally I ask Korin about her collectors, a distinguished coterie which includes guys like Adam Jones — Tool’s guitarist and visual mastermind is the proud owner of “Believers”. It seems fitting that Jones is attracted to Korin’s work, even if musically there would be a possible juxtaposition. By which I mean, Tool’s music wouldn’t be the first choice to sonically represent Korin Faught’s imagery (I’d imagine more Wagner playing the living soundtrack to Georgia O’Keeffe, for instance). However, Adam Jones is complex in his musical approach, mirroring the complexity of Korin’s art. The complexity exploring one’s physical, spiritual, sexual and metaphysical role, isolated and alienated from conventionalism and simplistic majority-esque cognitives. The two artists have somewhat parallel ideas in their own exploration, manifesting different outcomes: one makes panels bathed in light and multiplicity, the other the drudging sonic embodiment of anxiety. Korin explains that Adam Jones is in London, in an understudy role taking tutelage from a painter friend of Korin’s, Phil Hale. Perhaps this discussion holds more importance since it is a painting by Hale who Korin has displayed on her wall in her studio. A painting rich with emotion, dramatic brush strokes and palette marks with thick paint application. A painting also displaying properties of solitude, isolation and a profound internal struggle.
After our final glass of wine we both decide that we have sufficiently explored what is central to Korin’s style, and her inspiration. She teases me for diving into questions which could be described as psycho-analytical; I acknowledge it, offering that perhaps it is my interest in Jung which perhaps was the unknowing impetus. All in all, exploring Korin Faught’s exploration was and is insightful, not the stuff of lazy Parisian salon afternoons but rather of real humanity. She is an artist on the rise with intent, urgency and honesty. I look forward to seeing Korin’s work on gallery — and museum — walls for many years to come.