Meg Langhorne's latest exhibition, Animal, on view at Cactus Bra Space this month, contains seven untitled gouache works on paper. Surprise and delight reward the viewer, who is beckoned by the pictures' bright colors and small size to look more closely. Each image is akin to those found on the covers of cheap romance novels, but with a surrealist twist: deer heads have replaced the womens'.
One pastoral scene features a Fabio look-alike, clad in purple tights and robes with a sword at his side, holding a large-chested damsel in a Renaissance gown. She licks her own nose and gazes ahead, disinterestedly. Another doe-faced heroine turns her head to eat leaves from a nearby tree branch, while her suitor strains to kiss her neck.
Only one of the images depicts a woman with a human face. Her shirtless, muscular companion has the head of a stag, with large antlers and a thick neck. He holds a sword and wears a bone necklace and buckskin pants. The frightened female kneels at his side and clings to his thigh. A starry night sky fills the background.
The pictures' settings, along with the subjects' attire, evoke a sense of melodrama coupled with hilarity. Are the deer-headed characters meant to remind us that in love, we often mask our true intentions? Is the "animal" to which Langhorne refers the hunted, or the pursuer?