The painting Balinese Maidens perfectly conveys the themes that frequented the artist’s works. Lee Man Fong often depicted woman alone and absorbed in their own private activities, be it weaving or combing their hair. Balinese Maidens therefore is a gentle divorce from such motifs by having two figures share the composition with their sisterly comradery.
As an anthropological study of the archipelago, the present piece provides insight into the daily routines and traditions of the Balinese people. Lee Man Fong has subsequently recreated the island existence from his viewpoint as a Chinese painter, for the composition is reminiscent of classical Chinese paintings that adhered to the Shan shui (mountain-water) philosophy. The two women allude to the Heart component of this teaching, for they are the focal point of the painting. It is their interaction that draws in the audience and has them wanting to learn more about the women’s relationship with each other.
Balinese Maidens is a special piece from the artist’s oeuvre, for Lee Man Fong has created a painting that demonstrates his respect and admiration for culture that was not his own. Therefore the painting may be seen as the artist’s homage of a place that continued to mesmerize him throughout his lifetime.
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