Seeing Children Play


Jan Verhas, Hide and Seek

It looks like fun.  Two children at play, too young to be sure of when they can be seen.  The little boy, half hidden behind the chair, his feet and legs visible below, his head peeking out above, reflected in the shiny cabinet next to him.  The little girl, creeping carefully in, one hand on the curtain that might hide her, leaning forward to try to see while keeping her body hidden.

Jan Verhas captures them with their faces alive, their small, tense bodies framed by and reflected in the adult world around them.  The room they are in is dusky; the light and colour seem to be in the room behind the little girl.

This is one of the things Verhas was well-known for – paintings of children doing the kinds of things that children naturally do.  These two are busy playing their game of hide and seek.  The painting shows what looks like a child’s world, but it is adult eyes – ours and the eyes of the artist – that define the moment.

When we look we see more than two children in a room.  As we look, we are creating our own interpretation of what the children are doing.  Verhas creates the atmosphere, depicts the tensions; we, coming with our own ideas, interpret what we he has created.

The viewer is always a part of the picture.

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