Both a luminist and colorist, Le Mayeur bathed his sceneries with the sultry Balinese sunlight and a prismatic vision of colors that captured the island’s lively tropical atmosphere. Saturating the scenery with rich hues of fiery red, yellow ochres and sea-greens, he imbues the painting with a festive vibrancy found in the colorful Balinese culture. The lush, jewel tones that accent the dense foliage is a departure from the pastel palette found in Le Mayeur’s earlier, pre-war works (1932-37), emboldening the work with chromatic intensity. Painstakingly painted with delicate intricacy, the sarong’s batik patterns are dyed in similarly striking colors of ambers and burnt oranges, juxtaposed against darker shades of violet and crimson. The multi-colored sarongs encase the bronzed women in a tight embrace, accentuating the voluptuous sensuality of the Balinese maidens. Posed in riveting stages of dance, they exude a spirited liveliness that echoes the scene’s vivacity. Le Mayeur’s skilful portrayal of their dance is the culmination of years spent watching Balinese Legong performances, before finally finding his future icon and dancer who would dominate his oeuvre, Ni Pollok.
In the midst of the shaded enclave, sunlight pierces through the thick canopy of leaves and pools into a gilded spotlight, blanketing the dancing women in the hazy afternoon light. Blossoming flora fall in pendulous sways above the women, its curling branches and vines drawing the gaze to the enthralling performance in the clearing. In the vignette of light, the models gleam with impastos of warm yellow, as if they were embodiments of the sun itself. Sequestered in the comfort of the adumbral shade, their companions watch the performance unfold in tranquil repose. Two women stand tall in outstretched jubilation, both mirroring each other in playful rapport. The others lay in restful silence, basking in serene contentment of each other’s company. Even in the shadows, the women are lit up in gradations of orange, yellow and umber, their sun-kissed bodies emanating a golden warmth. Under radiant streams of light, the maidens stand unified with the landscape in euphoric unity.
Light, pearlescent washes stain the far-flung horizon in rosy hues of pink and violet, the cool tones differentiating the setting sky from the sunlit terrace. The cerulean ocean underneath is executed with increasing viscosity, vacillating between shades of blue that act in diametrical opposition with the warm, yellowed clearing. In a masterful display of acuity and expertise, Le Mayeur evokes a harmonious interplay of color that binds the distant vistas with the populous landscape. The tension elicited by the opposing tonalites instead offer an intriguing texture and depth to the seascape, curating a refreshingly stunning depiction of the celestial skies.
Peppered with multiple figures dynamically motioning against their natural mileu, this highly detailed and rare composition hails from the pinnacle of Le Mayeur’s oeuvre and encompasses all the themes that define his prized aesthetic. Le Mayeur said: “You will understand my paintings wherever you may see them. For everything in this little paradise which I created for myself was made to be painted.” In the little world that Le Mayeur had carved for himself, he enlivens the halcyon days spent painting on the coastal shores of Bali. The painter integrates the picturesque Balinese terrain and its bustling traditions with splendid dexterity, the enchanting spectacle providing a glimpse into his vision of paradise.
 Joy Ubbens, Cathinka Huzing, Adrien Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès, 1880-1958: Painter-Traveller/Schilder-Reiziger, Amsterdam 1995, 120
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