During his time in London as a young artist, Donald Friend was inspired to visit West Africa and see first-hand the tribal art that was influencing contemporary European artists such as Picasso and Braque. Travelling to Nigeria in 1938, he lived for a time at Ikerre in Ekiti province where, provided with a large house and servants in the compound of the Ogoga (ruler), Friend pursued his interest in the culture of the local Yoruba people. He drew, painted, observed their customs and way of life and recorded his impressions in a detailed manuscript that he intended for publication – but which was eventually abandoned. This is one of a number of drawings that he created to accompany that text. They illustrate a range of subjects from Yoruba artefacts or early brass heads, to Benin bronzes and contemporary wood-carvings incorporated into buildings.
Elepa Mask I
pencil, pen and ink, wash on cream laid paper
34.1 x 21.0 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.r. corner, black ballpoint pen "D F.". Not dated.
Margaret Hannah Olley Art Trust 1992
Not on display
© Reproduced with permission of the Estate of Donald Friend. Licensed by Copyright Agency.
Shown in 3 exhibitions
Donald Friend Retrospective 1915-1989:
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 09 Feb 1990–25 Mar 1990
- National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], Melbourne 14 Apr 1990–06 Jun 1990
- Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart 26 Jun 1990–19 Aug 1990
A wall hanging, watercolours, drawings and oil painting by Donald Friend 1915-1989, Australian Galleries, Sydney, Paddington, 09 Mar 1992–28 Mar 1992
Great gifts, great patrons, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Aug 1994–19 Oct 1994
Referenced in 1 publication
Anne Gray, Art and Australia (Vol. 39, No. 3), 'Donald Friend in Nigeria', pg. 428-435, Sydney, Mar 2002-May 2002, 432, 433 (colour illus.). pg. 431 & 432 details influence and context of Friend's practice; pg. 435 describes the artist's Nigerian manuscript for which this drawing was intended as an illustration.