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biography about

En

As the History of Western Art shows an abundance of representations of pain, suffering and violence, it is at first sight surprising that the work of Ronald Ophuis has led to such emotional responses and controversies.


To understand why his work has raised such a good deal of dust one also has to look how his work, perhaps, differs from this tradition. First of all, Ophuis's scenes of violence are situated in a spatial and temporal present that is in most cases uncannily familiar to us. The violence that Ophuis represents takes place in our own world, instead of an abstracted, mythical context that is comfortingly far away and unfamiliar. A second difference is that in Ophuis' work the exclusive Western tradition of fixation on suffering of victims is not at work. The paintings for which Ophuis is mostly known and contested are, however, representations of violence that focus predominantly on the perpetrators, making the paintings highly ambiguous: the viewer cannot follow, or identify with, the moral position implicated by the painting. Instead, the painting forces the viewer to consider moral positioning in itself.


When working on a series, Ophuis always extensively researches his subject matter and, when circumstances allow, usually visits the “violence” scene.

Fr

Au vu des nombreuses représentations de la douleur, de la souffrance et de la violence dans l’histoire de l’art occidental, il semble au premier abord étonnant que l'oeuvre de Ronald Ophuis ait provoqué des controverses et des réactions si émotionnelles.


Afin de comprendre pourquoi ses oeuvres créent de tels émois, il faudrait peut-être se demander en quoi elles divergent de cette tradition. D'abord, les scènes de violence chez Ophuis sont situées dans un présent spatial et temporel qui nous est, dans la plupart des cas, étrangement familier. La violence décrite par Ophuis a lieu dans notre monde contemporain, et non pas dans un contexte abstrait, mythique et par là même confortablement distant et étranger. Ensuite, les oeuvres d'Ophuis ne mettent pas en scène une tradition occidentale de fixation exclusive sur la souffrance des victimes. Au contraire, les peintures qui ont rendu Ophuis à la fois célèbre et contesté sont des représentations de violence concentrées principalement sur les bourreaux. De ce point de vue, ces peintures sont très ambiguës et interpellent le spectateur, qui ne peut pas suivre, ou s'identifier à la position morale présentée par l’oeuvre. A contrario, l’oeuvre oblige le spectateur à remettre en cause l'idée même d'un positionnement moral.


Lorsqu’il travaille une série, Ophuis effectue toujours des recherches approfondies sur son sujet et, lorsque les circonstances le permettent, se rend sur la scène de la « violence ».

Nl

As the History of Western Art shows an abundance of representations of pain, suffering and violence, it is at first sight surprising that the work of Ronald Ophuis has led to such emotional responses and controversies.


To understand why his work has raised such a good deal of dust one also has to look how his work, perhaps, differs from this tradition. First of all, Ophuis's scenes of violence are situated in a spatial and temporal present that is in most cases uncannily familiar to us. The violence that Ophuis represents takes place in our own world, instead of an abstracted, mythical context that is comfortingly far away and unfamiliar. A second difference is that in Ophuis' work the exclusive Western tradition of fixation on suffering of victims is not at work. The paintings for which Ophuis is mostly known and contested are, however, representations of violence that focus predominantly on the perpetrators, making the paintings highly ambiguous: the viewer cannot follow, or identify with, the moral position implicated by the painting. Instead, the painting forces the viewer to consider moral positioning in itself.


When working on a series, Ophuis always extensively researches his subject matter and, when circumstances allow, usually visits the “violence” scene.