This work is accompanied by the artist's original hand carved Balinese frame.
Throughout his life, Le Mayeur was a great lover of the immeasurable intricacies of light, and was enraptured by its ability to imbue and transform the atmosphere of a landscape with its warmth and luminosity. Combining Le Mayeur’s passion for the visual delineations of light, along with his infatuation with the dignity and poise of Balinese women on one single canvas, Village Girls is an expansive love letter to the verdures of Bali and all the exotic captivations that hide from within.
Village Girls is emblematic of Le Mayeur’s pre-war, Bali-period art style – painted in muted hues, it is a lyrical work that carries a whimsical, dream-like flair. Since the 1920s, Bali has stood as a mystical paradise for European expatriates, and Le Mayeur was no exception to its seduction, as he quickly became enraptured by the island’s ornamental landscapes and rich cultural life. Le Mayeur’s abundant and warm-toned hues seamlessly connect with Bali’s natural envrionment, as he douses the picturesque scene with a duvet of light, and instils its milieu with his recognizable, balmy glow.
Surrounded by the flourishing vegetation, the shadowed maidens pose in warm contrast to the lush greenery behind them, which is applied with blurred strokes of plum reds, mossy greens and pastel oranges. Le Mayeur reduces the minutiae of the backdrop into deft streaks of soft-hued impasto, which set the stage for the classically rendered Balinese women. In what has become one of his defining archetypal re-interpretations of the female anatomy, Le Mayeur sculpts their sun-kissed torsos with darker lustrous shades of yellow and tan, and elongates their slender limbs as to accentuate their feminine curvature and enthralling gentility.
Vaguely reminiscent of the idealised figures of classical Greek sculpture, Le Mayeur arranges and assembles each of the refined maidens across the landscape, and reaches the impression of a vertical composition by skilfully permeating dimension through a diverse repetition of vertical forms. In Southeast Asia, the female figure has always stood as an unparalleled bearer of significance, not only within the perimeters of Indonesian modern art, but also amongst the cultural and historical notions of its society. In depicting a group of young village girls, Le Mayeur creates a paean of admiration for those who serve as the quiet backbone of community, and sheds light on the prominent role of women in indigenous rituals and domestic and agricultural labours.
Even under the scorching gaze of the sunlight, Le Mayeur still takes care to delineate the intricacies of their individual dress and movements - from the blooming flowers that are placed atop their tied up hair, to the glimmering folds and patterns of their emerald green and candied pink sarongs, to the baskets of offerings that they balance with ease. With an unwavering eye for detail and accuracy, Le Mayeur crafts an impeccably observed piece that becomes animated with buoyancy and harmony, as the village girls put a brief pause to their day to day tasks and indulge in a precious moment of carefree chatter and relaxation.
As the swaying leaves of the palm trees fall in pendulous sways, their curling branches and vines part in order to give way to the women who are sequestered in the comfort of its adumbral shade. In this remarkable vignette of sunlight and tranquillity, the village girls gleam with warm impastos, as if they themselves are emanating with light. With shifting tones of light and shade, Le Mayeur’s vision of paradise and its inhabitants is brought to life in Village Girls, as he composes a hymn to the breath taking diversity of Bali’s natural environs and its humble locale.
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