Libby Edwards Galleries & Art Consultancy

Donald Friend

In Donald Friend we see escape, escapism and self-knowledge come to the fore. Where the palm fronds of youthful innocence are bathed in the afterglow and anonymity of exotica. Where exotica becomes erotica. 


That is what we get with Friend. His drawing borders so closely into the realm of kitsch, and yet, with the sparseness of detail, the minimal colour and the clear beauty of his subject matter, we get an artist, part anthropologist, part escapist, part od-bod. And a perpetual observer. Friend becomes the putative Somerset Maugham who employs sign language to signal his self-discovery to the rest of the world.  He finds himself, in the steamy, tropical luxuriance of South East Asis, where as Conrad described it ,” one can disappear from civilisation, and choose to emerge more or less with dignity intact


Friends’ exotic portrayals of younger men, is what it is, as other artists, and more recently a celebrated photographer, have sought truth in the depiction of pre-pubesense, and the idealisation, as the Greeks had found it. in their apogee of the hellenic exuberance. Firm buttocks, episcene visages, and the transluscent, almost empty expressions, of younger men, turning into adults. Friends’ gift is that this fascination, doesn’t descend into titiivation, rather it is poised somethere in between.  His figures - lithe, elastic and ethereal - are derived from a journey into his subconscious. His own wandering finds succour in these representations which he identities as himself, the eternal innocent, the paedogogue without a postcard, who is sort of doomed Daedulus-like’, in the roseate incandescence of youthful dreaming. Part-eugenist, part-narrator, who sifts through the substance of humanity, not bounded by the straight jacket conformity of white australia, and via a sleight-of-hand uses his power, the self-annointed kind to portray his yearnings in graphic form.