Friends and lovers

This exhibition featured the work of one of Australia's most gifted artists Donald Friend, along with works by his friends Jeffrey Smart and Justin O'Brien, all selected from the University of Sydney's Art Collection.

Donald Friend Flute players

To co-incide with the exhibition the University invited renowned art historian, writer and publisher, Lou Klepac to give a free lecture at the Gallery on Donald Friend's art on Wednesday 9th March 2005.

Lou Klepac is an expert on the artist's art and life. He is the author of The Genius of Donald Friend, Drawings from the Diaries 1942 - 1989.

The drawings and paintings on display revealed Donald Friend's romantic fascination with the depiction of the male nude.

The quality of Friend's drawings has long been admired by both collectors and art historians. Art critic Robert Hughes thought Friend was "one of the two finest draughtsmen of the nude in the history of Australian art". These works also capture the essence of Friend's passion for life and exotic travels. Never still for long, Friend relished life as a joyous adventurer spending a large part of his life on the move in Europe, Africa, Greece, Italy, Sri Lanka and Bali.

Friend was not only a major Australian painter and draughtsman but also a printmaker, sculptor, illustrator and writer and a selection of his witty illustrated books from the Fisher Library Rare Book collection were also on display.

Drawings often provide a clearer more intimate perspective of an artist's intentions and interests and this is true for both Friend and his colleague Jeffrey Smart. The exhibition of twenty two pictures was drawn from the University's Art Collection with the addition of two works by Friend and O'Brien, on loan from a private Sydney collection.

Image: above Donald Friend Flute players, (c1960s), pen and ink wash. Bequest of Alan R. Renshaw, University of Sydney Art Collection. Reproduced with the permission of the Estate of the Late Donald Friend.