By Yasmijn Jarram

The crudely painted works of Ronald Ophuis confront onlookers with realistic images of crimes of violence, both political and non-political. Sometimes they are based on texts, media images or discussions with experience-based experts, and sometimes they arise on the basis of association. Ophuis often works with actors whom he gets to re-enact, in his studio, scenes that he will eventually paint. For this he delves deeply into the matter in advance: from on-scene visits to interviews with witnesses and choosing the actors’ clothes.

Ultimately, the dozens of photographs that Ophuis makes of the re-enacted scenes serve as the basis for his life-size paintings. The exact same tableaus he has painted once actually took place, stage-managed, in Ophuis’ atelier. In fact, the stories behind the work are fictitious. Nevertheless, they summon up sincere emotions in onlookers. What’s more, depicting such abominations by means of art actually offers more opportunities to identify with both victim and perpetrator – something that objective journalism is incapable of doing.