Michael hodges show of the week
Are you feeling brave? Because Art Of Violence, the first-ever British show dedicated to 17th- century Spanish baroque master Jusepe de Ribera, is pretty brutal. There are scenes of unwarranted cruelty, torture and execution, and it comes with the warning: ‘This exhibition contains one example of human remains.’
Those remains are a piece of tattooed skin, included here to further illustrate Ribera’s compulsive rendering of the martyrdom of St Bartholomew, skinned alive in the 1st century AD. Two great pictures of this scene dominate the first room. The executioner and his assistant, unwashed and dressed in rags, have idiot grins and the pug features of simpletons. Such people will always be with us, Ribera
Dulwich Picture Gallery, London Until Jan 27
seems to suggest, but concentrate instead on Bartholomew. Filled with divine grace, his eyes invite us to transcend his very unpleasant demise. The painter clearly owes Caravaggio for the chiaroscuro technique, but no one does imploring eyes like Ribera.
There are mouths open muscles clenched in pain in suffering and throughout this