Representations of pain, suffering and violence, such as the crucifixions, descents from the cross and other biblical scenes have always played a central role in the History of Western Art. The work of Ronald Ophuis can be placed in this Western tradition of painting, but is different in that Ophuis’ scenes take place in our own world, instead of an abstracted, mythical context. A second difference is that many of Ophuis’ works focus predominantly on the perpetrator while in biblical scenes the central figures are victims of violence. In these scenes the viewer can identify with the victim. The scenes are part of a narrative in which the role of the perpetrator and the victim are fixed. The suffering victim is without guilt and therefore posits his viewers also without guilt. In Ophuis’ works the viewers attention is mainly directed to the perpetrators. One is encouraged to imagine oneself in a situation or position one does not want to be in. Also it is not clear whether the paintings celebrate or condemn the violence in the scene. The viewer cannot identify and is first to consider his own moral position.
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