Painted in the Tropics is a story that has never been told in its fullest, and could never have been told while Theo was alive. The author goes into intimidate detail about the expat painters on Bali that Theo knew Walter Spies, Rudolf Bonnet, Miguel Covarrubias, Le Mayeur, Han Snel, Donald Friend, Mario Blanco, Willem Hofker, Arie Smit and many others. Why was Walter Spies put in prison? And what happened when Han Snel kidnapped his 16-year old Balinese wife?
The author, Harold Stephens, knew Theo Meier for more than 30 years and he shared many experiences with him.
Theo was born and raised in Basel and left home at 23 to follow in the footsteps of Paul Gauguin. He spent the rest of his life in the South Seas and in Asia. He lived for 22 years on Bali and the last 24 years of his life in Chiang Mai. This is more than a story about an artist; it’s about a restless young man who went to Tahiti to paint, and about his living with savages in the New Hebrides and his walking across China with an easel strapped to his back.
Theo was one of the most remarkable men who had lived in Bail and Thailand. We call him an artist, a painter, but he was more than that. He was a bon vivant, an epicure to the soul, who enjoyed life to its fullest and who made everyone around him feel the same.
Put him in the dining car on the train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, and he soon took over the car, with conductors and waiters as well as passengers joining in the merry making. His shouts and cheers, with his glass of Mekong-and-soda held high, and his shouts “salute,” could be heard throughout all the cars. No one slept when Theo was aboard.
He was truly a man of the arts. When it came to cooking, he excelled; when it came to music, even complicated Balinese gamelan music, he knew it well and wrote a book about it; he knew his spices, herbs, medicine, and his women. Indeed his women. The paintings of his women, many nudes, hang in art galleries and museums and in private collections around the world
How many times have we heard it said, or said it ourselves - “I wish I would have bought one of his paintings.” Yes, one could have bought a Theo painting for a pittance, and now his paintings are selling for a hundred thousand dollars and over at auction houses in Asia and Europe.
Theo Meier was, to use an old adage, the last of his kind. Truly, there can never be another like him.
To purchase Painted in the Tropics, or other books by Harold Stephens, you can order direct on-line from the publisher at http://wolfendenpublishing.com, or from Wolfenden Publishing, 160-A Redwood Drive, Garberville, CA.