Bali Hai! This is Why

Belgian painter Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merpes was born in Brussels on 9 February 1880. He left Europe in 1932 and travelled to Bali where he remained for the rest of his life. Le Mayeur De Merpes was fascinated with the Balinese culture and the Hindu traditions including the Balinese people’s traditional way of life, the temple rituals and the performance of their local music and dances. He was also impressed with the luscious greenery and surroundings of Bali’s tropical climate.

Initially renting a house in Bali’s capital city Denpasar, Le Mayeur de Merpes became acquainted with a 15-year-old legong dancer, Ni Nyoman Pollok, aka Ni Pollok, who became the model and muse for his paintings.

A number of Le Mayeur De Merpes’ Balinese art works were exhibited in Singapore in 1933, which increase his popularity. Due to this success, he purchased some land and built a house and studio at Sanur beach. Ni Pollok and her two female friends worked every day as models for Le MayeurDe Merpes; and by 1935 he and Ni Pollok married.

  • During the WW2 Japanese occupation of Indonesia, Le Mayeur De Merpes was put under house arrest by the Japanese authorities. However, he continued painting often on rice sack cloth or any other surfaces he could find.

In 1956, Post-Proclamation of Independence, the Indonesian Minister for Education and Culture visited Le Mayeur De Merpes and Pollok and recommended that their house, studio and all its contents be preserved as a museum.  Le Mayeur De Merpes agreed and on 28 August, 1957; a Deed of Conveyance was signed, and the property and its contents were gifted to the public; as a museum.

  • In 1958,  De Merpes was diagnosed with a severe form of ear cancer, and accompanied by Ni Pollok, returned to Belgium to receive medical treatment. After two months in Belgium, on 31 May, 1958, the 78-year-old painter died and was buried in Ixelles, Brussels.
  • Ni Pollok then returned home to take care of their house which had become the Museum where she lived until her death on 18 July, 1985, at the age of 68. Visitors today can still see up to 80 of his works on display.

Terima Kasih,  M. Le Mayeur de Merpes – Makasi!

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