Born in Basle, Switzerland, Theo Meier received his formal art education at the Basle School of Art, where he was awarded a scholarship. His talent was revealed at an early age. However, the real sparkle did not shine until he saw the works by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) at an exhibition in Basle. The young artist was moved by the primitive nature in Gauguin's paintings. Soon after that, Meier made a bold decision that he was going to follow Gauguin's footsteps to Tahiti. The reality of this exotic place was not quite what Meier expected. His Tahiti trip was a failure in the sense that its beauty was destroyed by the loss of innocence and growing commercialism. But it was still a milestone in his life. Meier's continuous search for the missing beauty lead him to Bali, where the greatest part of his artistic harvest came from.
Meier first visited Bali in 1936 and resided on the island until 1955. Bali is that perfect paradise he had been looking for. The island found no trace of the modern world and retained most of its traditional lifestyle as well as values. Meier was greatly inspired by the Balinese ritual songs and dances, just as what this painting depicts. His art was propelled to new heights by the natural purity and simplicity of the island.
This large oil painting portrays an offering procession, which is probably a vivid depiction of the artist's experience. Balinese Girls depicts Balinese girls giving offerings to, most likely, the Sea God, supervised by the priest on the left. The same offering box, atop the head of the Balinese girl on the right, appears in Meier's Offering to the Sea God in 1982. Meier embraced Balinese culture from every aspect. It is possible that this kind of Hindu procession left a strong impression in his memory. Balinese Girls was dated 1973 during the time when Meier settled with his third wife in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Meier left Bali in 1955 and returned to Basle for the launch of his exhibition. He went back to Bali for a short time and departed again for an invitation to Thailand from his friend, Prince Sanidh Rangsit in 1957. From that moment onwards, Meier never returned to Bali, the island he so cherished, again. He could only revisit the good old place through portraying his experience by dynamic brushstrokes.
Meier's adaptation of primitive artistic language is evident, as presented in this painting. Similar to Gauguin, his works are highly stylized in broad, flattened use of color and rough brushstrokes. The outline of the figures, also, is not very significant, where the presence of the figures is compressed among themselves and they are absorbed into the sunset behind. Another featured characteristic is the bold use of yellow and red. A naturalistic and tropical sense could be generated from such an extensive application of yellow and red in both Gauguin and Meier's paintings. Such atmosphere, in the context of Balinese Girls, contains the artist's nostalgia about the paradise he once lived for 15 years.
本次拍賣的〈峇里少女〉描繪了峇里人的祭祀儀式，相信邁爾本人亦曾親眼目睹類似場面。畫中一群少女似乎在向海神貢獻祭品，左方的祭司正在監督儀式的進行。右方少女置於頭上的祭品容器亦曾出現在邁爾於1982年畫的〈海神獻祭〉'Offering to the Sea God'一畫中。邁爾熱愛峇里文化，如此盛大的儀式一定令他留下深刻印象。此畫〈峇里少女〉作於1973年，當時邁爾已和第三任妻子定居泰國清邁。他於1955年離開峇里，到巴塞爾舉行展覽。其後，他回到峇里島並逗留了一段短時間，再應朋友Prince Sanidh Rangsit的邀請，在1957年到泰國。此後，邁爾便沒有再回到他珍愛的峇里島。只有在以畫筆重現島上經歷的時候，他才得以重遊故地，回到記憶中那純樸美好的小島。