Peregrine Honig: Fashism

Date June 4, 2008 at 10:00 PM

Publication THE magazine

Categories Performing Arts


Throughout her career, Peregrine Honig has been drawing diminutive, irresistible, perfectly crafted human and animal creatures in variously themed contexts. Whatever the poses or facial expressions-be they those on little boys or little girls, rabbits, bears, birds, or skinny-legged deer-the assured, infallible lines in her drawings deliver stylized, expressive bodies of infinite fragility and bold presence. This current series of watercolor-and-ink drawings are bigger than ever before, and while they are rendered with the same elegant, linear clarity, there is more opportunity to highlight the vital energy of these female sexual creatures in more painterly fashion; more space for the artist to experiment with her restless and playful language of mark-making, altogether thrilling and scathing in its collective sprawl and wit. The three largest works, rendered in lines both frail and clenched, and sometimes fragmentary, are drawings of young women who embody the poignant yearning of come-and-get-me; albeit somewhat zombified versions of warped self-display. These three exhibitionist depictions of alienated selfhood fairly rollick with splotchy, imposed markings of appropriated "otherhood."€ In Chanel Masai, a dazed, bored vixen tilts her head and luscious rosebud lips just-so, hooks her finger in her thong strap (a familiar Peregrine touch), and has the Chanel logo, dripping blood, branded into her midriff. She wears two Masai neckpieces, one of which tightly inscribes her neck in a manner reminiscent of bondage imagery, while two sketchy cartoony airplanes carom from opposite directions, aiming bull's eye, straight at her small, naked nipples. As an added fillip (what does it take, finally, to be that extra-special, stand-out, final-clincher, delectably one-of-a-kind, exotic item?), she is crowned by Shiva, nestled in her turban, and a delicate chain of hearts and gemstones dangles across one cheek, suspended from the dark glasses she wears. In Doily, Honig reprises the doily motif from earlier works bycrowning this waif-like creature with a cut-out sculptural filigree of it. Here, this agent provocateur wears pearls and panties while an upside-down angel and a fanciful, upside-down Muhammad astride Buraq float across the foreground-white apparitions that echo themselves in the form of diminished, white splotches of abstract doves (?) or clouds (?) that waft in the foreground against a largely indecipherable background phantasmagoria of rainbows and doily flowers and zippity-do-da birds.

Honig, always prone to teasing out maximum wit with virtuoso wordplay in her work, indulges this talent in the Widow series-a suite of nine much smaller watercolor and ink drawings. These are spare and succinct, slyly wicked, color-coded fashion sketches that are tailor-made to the specific tastes and styles of the consumer-widow as she considers her upcoming purchases for this winter's cruise attire-War Bride, White Widow, Black Widow, Blue Widow, Pink Widow, Albino Widow, and so on. These have to be seen so that you can connect the dots yourself.