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Portrait of an old Superhero

  • Culture
  • - 6 May 2015

    Heroes, like superheroes, are all young and beautiful. At least until the clamorous discoveries of the Marvellini Brothers, whose name alone evokes Marvel, the legendary publisher of comics super. They say they have found a fantastic historic archive in their family, that finally unveils the true origins of superheroes. Even Batman had a grandfather. Mazinger had a dear old aunt. And so on, going back generations, reaching the origins of daguerreotypes. Finally someone has shed some light on the mysterious legends of the dynasty. Or have they?

    The fine line separating what’s real from the imaginary disappears in the works of the Marvellini Brothers, authentic magicians of restoration and photo editing. Their technique is mysterious, yet complex. Use old printing methods with modern technology. The exact formula has been passed down to only members of the family and is held by an impenetrable secret. There is talk of baryta-coated paper with silver salts, printed in a darkroom and treated in tannic acid or Cyanotype by solar ray exposure on watercolor paper.

    Certainly each photo has a particular story, which began in the early years of the last century.
    The discovery of a super ancestor, in fact, it all starts with some old tin boxes forgotten in an attic, where old dusty portraits were found, ready to return to their glory. For every face, every pose and every vintage outfit, the perfect accessories are created; they are photographed separately, with the same light. At this point, he elements come together with the magic wand of Viraggio Marvellini (“Marvellini wash”), in the darkroom. An integral part of the process is the use of original antique frames, unique pieces restored, enhancing the value of each super portrait. Several days are necessary to complete each piece and everything is rigorously made within the family Marvellini, with the cure of true craftsmen (the definition they prefer to that of artists).

    The final effect is amazing. They describe the result as a trip to the “Disturbing Valley” which is probably found on the dark side of Wonderland. The reassuring statuesque poses of the early 1900s are turned upside down by a space mask, mixing the familiar symbolic references with those of fantasy. Elegance and irony are combined with technical perfection, hypnotizing the viewer. The game between old and new, weak and strong, ego and super-ego, is getting more and more daring, when superheroes begin to play.

    “We grew up on bread and comics, especially with the cartoons of robots, Mazinger, Ufo Robot Grendizer, Gundam, Vanguard, together with a passion for antiquity, that we’d already shown as children.”

    Explain the Marvellini Brothers, who confess: “Perhaps the Court Records of Milan do not show a Marvellini family, but we have been good friends for more than thirty years; our real names are shrouded in super heroic mystery.” They have a sincere preference for Batman. “He has no superpowers. He hasn’t even experienced anything phantasmagorical such as exposure to strange and unusual beams or spider bites. He doesn’t come from another planet nor does he have any genes modified in a laboratory. Batman is really cool for simply himself. And then he’s got a really fantastic mask; the design defies time.”

    The Marvellini collections explore different areas, from “ready to hang” portraits to a series of “Fine Art,” authentic pearls for collector and some of which may be made upon request. It is possible, in fact, to create an ancestor with the guise of a myth, basically in every grandfather may hide the sepia side of the force; all you need to know is how to find it. The Marvellini are masters at this, turning yellowed ancestors into heroes, or actually better, super heroes.




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