Events as tragic as 9/11, Columbine and the Virginia Tech massacre are nearly impossible to document in a sensitive, appropriate manner.
It comes as something of a pleasant surprise, then, to see Ben Turnbull’s artistic (if very America-centric) take on the events in his forthcoming show, Supermen – An Exhibition of Heroes.
Turnbull’s collage works depict the heroes of the modern day using the heroes of pop culture, taking fragments of vintage comic book stars and reconfiguring them into stunning portraits, meaning the fictional Captain America, Spiderman and the Hulk are now segued into one another to represent the policemen, firemen and other heroic types from our far too factual reality.
‘The life changing events of 9/11 led us all to believe in the need for real life superheroes, says Turnbull. ‘Superman didn’t fly down to save the falling buildings, there was no Caped Crusader ready to do battle with the arch-enemy and Spidey didn’t spin his web. Without the need of a phone-booth or a revolving door these true patriots donned their iconic costumes and sacrificed life and limb for what they believed in.’
Having collected comics since the age of 11, Turnbull’s studio is an Aladdin’s cave of comic fragments, with the new series of works fashioned from over 1000 pre-1990s comics written by some of the artist’s own childhood heroes.
Ben Turnbull’s Supermen – An Exhibition of Heroes runs from 16 September – 22 October at Eleven , 11 Eccleston Street, London SW1W