Goodbye Romance, Hello T-Shirt

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Published May 12, 2009

Carlos Valencia’s show of drawings at The Journal Gallery closed Sunday, but like many objects originating in the art world, it’s preserved in fashion. In his debut solo exhibition, precociously titled “Goodbye to Romance,” the artist showed renderings of images appropriated from different media in graphite so delicate they looked like gouache or watercolor in places. The “Romance” in question was likely the pop culture’s appreciation for its icons. Lindsay Lohan, pictured at a close crop looking fatigued, is a prime example—and made it onto the exhibition’s invitation. A more pointed example of Valencia’s critique of the cultural fascination with nostalgia sees Franklin, the black character from “The Peanuts,” sitting on one side of the table facing the rest of the characters. Indeed, the best pieces—even the most interestingly rendered—were those in which both image and the media frame were visible: Valencia’s drawing of an iChat bubble and the cover of the New York Post both reference the ways in which information circulates, through questions of branding and kitsch. So it’s fitting that Valencia and the journal have returned three drawings to a collectible T-shirt (handmade by Marial Maher)—and that one of them features tragically short-lived heartthrob and gay icon River Phoenix, from My Own Private Idaho. The drawing was called “Speedball,” if that answers your questions about where the romance went.

Carlos Valencia’s T-shirts are available at The Journal. The Journal Gallery is located at 168 North 1 St, Brooklyn.