It’s not easy to be a superhero. A superhero has to sacrifice his/her life for the greater good, putting aside personal ambitions and feelings. After all, with great power comes great responsibility, something the likes of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman know all too well.
Super Flemish, the latest, brilliant work of French photographer Sacha Goldberger, aims at capturing the cons of being a superhero – but there are also characters from novels and films like Star Wars – by portraying the best-known American comic book characters with the technique of contemporary painters of the Flemish school from the 17th century. Based on a keen contrast between lights and shadows, this type of portraiture brings out the melancholy of the depicted subject, and that of comic book characters in the case of Sacha’s Super Flemish.
Super Flemish is the result of two years of work, during which Sacha collaborated with 110 people, from costume designers to makeup artists and, of course, the subjects, some of whom strike a remarkable resemblance with the actors who have impersonated the superheroes on the screen.
Read Sacha Goldberger’s project statement for Super Flemish:
“What if Superman was born in the sixteenth century? And what if the Hulk was a Duke? How might Van Eyck have portrayed Snow White? Sacha’s discovery of these characters, which goes back to childhood, gave birth to a desire to re-appropriate them, to take them back to a time forming the cornerstone of modern western art.
Sacha wants to confront these icons of American culture with contemporary painters of the Flemish school. The collection demonstrates the use of 17th century techniques counterpointing light and shadow to illustrate nobility and fragility of the super powerful of all times.
It also invites you to celebrate the heroes of your childhood. These characters have become icons to reveal their humanity: tired of having to save the world without respite, promised to a destiny of endless immortality, forever trapped in their character.
The superheroes often live their lives cloaked in anonymity. These portraits give them a chance to “fix” their narcissism denied. By the temporal disturbance they produce, these images allow us to discover, under the patina of time, an unexpected melancholy of those who are to be invincible.
As science fiction meets history of art, time meets an inexhaustible desire for mythology which is within each of us.”
— Sacha Goldberger