Sunday, February 01, 2009

Donald Friend, lover of Bali.

Donald Friend - Figures (Ceylon)

Donald Friend (1915-1989) was an Australian artist, born in New South Wales.

In London, Friend met a Nigerian, Ladipo, who became his male model and lover.

During World War II, Friend was appointed an Official War Artist.

After the war, Friend met the handsome art student Colin Brown.

Friend wrote in his diary, "My whole life is Colin. Not particularly Colin himself, but my love and appreciation and desire for the Colins of this world and my life."

In Italy, Friend fell in love with a model called Attilio Guarracino, whom he brought back to Australia.

Once more in London, Friend made figure drawings of a young Ibaden boy called Omu.

In Bali, Friend gained fame as an expatriate artist.

Donald Friend ( lived in Bali between 1966 and 1979.

Much of his art represents relationships with boys, 'some of whom remained as life-long friends'.

Friend wrote several books. The original manuscripts are archived in the major museums of Australia and in important private collections.

Friend wrote: "The artist is making a confession of his inner being, so he is really making a confession about himself. I really think that when you see a painting which expresses absolutely nothing of the artist, then you can be certain that it is a very bad painting.

"There are lots of bad paintings around. If you paint a wonderful picture, then you have put yourself into it!" (

"Friend was essentially a pagan, bereft of any sense of sin or guilt, reveling in sensuality and colour, and making no attempt to disguise the homo-eroticism which underlay much of his work - which makes the more surprising the fact that he won the Blake Prize for religious art in 1955.

"Nor did he mince words about his attractions, depicting himself in his journal as 'a middle-aged pederast who’s going to seed'. His relationships consisted in large part of a series of relations with adolescent boys, some of whom remained as life-long friends, particularly Attilio Guarracino and others who merely fleeced the artist for whom they had modeled."

John Moyle has an article about the Bali lifestyle of Donald Friend:

"There was also nothing unusual in a gay man living in the community, as there had already been a long tradition of homosexual artists taking up residence in Bali.

"Known locally as ‘The Group’, artists such as Walter Spies, Rudolf Bonnet and Auke Sonnega were to exist there for long periods, living a thin line between acceptance and scandal. In the 1930s, Bali was known in gay circles as a place tolerant to gay lifestyle and where a little money could buy a grand lifestyle...

"While Balinese culture does not officially recognise gays as a separate lifestyle, they do recognise that sexuality is fluid and manifests itself in many forms. This tolerance was historically evident in the Indo Malay courts of Java."



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