The subtitle for Painted in the Tropics is The Life and Times of Swiss
artist Theo Meier, and is a biography of the man who spent many years in
Chiang Mai after tasting many countries in the South Seas when younger.
It becomes obvious right from the start that Theo Meier was very much an
individual, eccentric in some ways, but not in all. Talented and opinionated
The review copy came directly from the author Harold Stephens (ISBN
978-0-978695-17-0, Wolfenden Publishers, 2013) and was a hard cover with
many photographs interspersed with the copy. These were B&W, which was a
pity as one of the aspects of Meier’s painting was his use of vibrant
colors. Stephens writes “… he painted brilliant landscapes, with ultramarine
background, glistening ochre and splashes of heavy green. The still lifes
were a mixture of vermilion and orange yellow. The portraits burst out in
shades of red, with shadows of purple.” In fact, Stephen’s writing enthused
me so much I chased up a color shot from the internet (Balinese life).
In his younger days, Meier was a traveler, as was Harold Stephens, so when
they eventually met up, there was an immediate common bond, which resulted
in a very accurate biography of the painter. Author Stephens admits in his
notes at the front of the book that, “Theo was a personal friend and he told
me things I wouldn’t dare print were he alive. Yet from a personal
perspective, I feel he wanted them told.”
Theo Meier began following Gaugin on his trips through the South Seas, but
shook off any thoughts that he was using Gaugin’s style. Meier was far too
individualistic for that. This could be seen very early in his career as an
artist where he ended up despising the art school and its lecturers and
students for their sycophancy.
Like all of Harold Stephens writing, it attracts you to follow the tale
closely, and with such an interesting personality to explore, this is a book
that will hold your attention as author Stephens takes you on a ‘guided
tour’ of the South Seas, including a short sojourn with some cannibals,
China, Singapore, Tahiti, the Marquesas, Sydney Australia, Bali, Chiang Mai,
Bali and the Thai Hill Tribes.
I contacted the author regarding the RRP, which is 620 baht, hard cover and
printed on excellent paper stock and available at all Asia Book outlets and
online at www.wolfenden publishing.com.
When I reviewed Harold Stephen’s The Education of a Travel Writer some years
ago, my summation was, “Stephens is more than just a writer, but is a
skilled raconteur.” His life-long habit of jotting down conversations has
probably assisted him, in that way, but I have the distinct feeling he may
have the Irish blood somewhere! Irishmen being the masters of story telling.
Now after reading Painted in the Tropics, I see no reason to change that
opinion! However, I must also say that the literals and other typo problems
that I mentioned in his previous book are once again with us! Please Harold,
get yourself a decent sub!