In the exhibition Should All Wounds Be Healed? Ronald Ophuis takes several recent histories as his subject: the concentration camps in World War II, the Fall of Srebrenica and, more recently, the situation of political prisoners in Egypt. Ophuis chooses to paint these traumatic images, often in large format, and makes it impossible to look away. "Time heals all wounds," says the proverb. But according to Ophuis, it is necessary and urgent to ensure that this does not always happen: “If painful histories do not hurt people who have not been a direct witness, then society is evolving towards a false historical sense and guilt-free morality. It is child's play to find traitors and corrupt consciences. We should not prevent people from becoming victims, but prevent people from becoming executioners.”
Ophuis bases his works on historical, documentary and journalistic material, on the stories of relatives and survivors, and conversations with witnesses. His work is about how we want events to be remembered and what images may be part of our collective consciousness. There is always a tension between attraction and repulsion in the work: the paintings contain a beauty but at the same time cause a shudder. With his characteristic paint treatment and meticulous compositions, Ophuis makes strategic use of what the possibilities of painting offer him. But the subjects he chooses are often confrontational, expecting the viewer to take a position on what is depicted. He turns viewers into an emotionally involved witness, challenging them to relate to the content of the work.