Reviews of Bondi Classic
On the beach: Paul Freeman’s book Bondi Classic depicts an endless, erotic summer
Alonso Duralde, August 17 2004
Sun, sand, sea–and skin. That’s the magic combination that artist Paul Freeman assembles in his sublime new book of photos, Bondi Classic. Freeman, a leading photographer for the Australian gay magazine Blue, captures a vast mix of hunky Australian men–ranging from sports stars and Olympians to soap opera heartthrobs–against the majesty of the continent’s gorgeous shoreline.
Freeman penned the biography of out Aussie footballer Ian Roberts, and Bondi Classic offers a similar mix of masculine athleticism and a gay eye for male beauty. In a market glutted with generic coffee-table tomes of vapid pretty boys, Freeman brings a unique point of view in this exemplary collection.
Beachbums Attitude gets hard to Paul Freeman’s Bondi Classic a collection of Bondi beach’s finest.
Jamie Hakim, December 2003
Coffee table books featuring the male nude are two a penny nowadays. Pop down to your local gay ‘lifestyle’ store and watch the shelves groan under the collective weight of..photographic mediocrity. Bondi Classic ain’t one of those! Shot by Paul Freeman, an established name on the Australian photographic circuit , this exquisite book roves around sydney’s world famous Bondi Beach. ..Freeman’s wicked way with a lense manages to elevate a potentially samey gay subject into something not simply sexy, but classy as well.
Bondi Vivant, February 2004
Gay men haven’t got a lot to thank the Catholic Church for, but when elderly nuns start handing out bookmarks depicting a semi-naked to–die-for St. Sebastian, you’ve got to feel some sense of gratitude. Blue’s most featured photographer Paul Freeman certainly did, and the idea of the vulnerable hero has stayed with him throughout his career. “The church gave me a way of looking at men reverentially, though it probably wasn’t what they had in mind”.
The Men of Australia
Grady Harp, December 21 2005
For those looking for the best of the books of male photography, this portfolio by Paul Freeman deserves a place high on the list. Different photographers approach the male nude with different agendas: some try for classic poses, some go for spontaneous moods, some keep the ‘privates’ in the shadows while others place the focus there, some costume, some try for natural effects. Freeman searches (and definitely finds!) subjects who are quintessentially masculine Men. And this collection should equally engage the interest of women as of the ready-made male population.
Freeman uses his fellow countrymen (Australia) to show us the virile attitude of the untamed. These ‘models’ are buff, have body decor from piercing or ink, know how to make the partially clothed form even more sensuous that the fully nude form (although there is a lot of that, too), and creates photographs that are well conceived and executed and presented in a superb format. There are portraits solo and in tandem. This is a collection that will find a wide audience. Recommended for the novice and the connoisseur collector alike!
An Instant Classic!
H.F. Corbin, July 15 2004
In the January 2004 issue of “Blue”, the Australian magazine where Paul Freeman is decribed as the magazine’s “most featured” photographer, the artist says that he has always wanted to keep some link with classical art. “Sort of like a meat pie inside the Sistine Chapel.” Most of these models Michelangelo would have loved, and they to a man are meat pies. There is not a wimp or effeminate– and it’s okay if one is– man in this collection of over 200 photographs. These men are rugged, hairy, beefy, muscular, tattooed, pierced, sweaty, wet and muddy. Some of them are a bit stylized and wearing gladiator garb. Many of them are at the beach– Bondi perhaps–there are some beautiful portraits here. And no model has his genitalia airbrushed.
In his brief introduction Mr. Freeman says that as a youngster he was taken by the image of the suffering Saint Sebastian (check out the portrait on page 174 of Garth Elliot 2) and that present day influences are Bruce Weber and Herb Ritts (speaking of airbrushing photographs). I think many of his models look more like some of the work of Jim French as well as Caravaggio– whom he acknowledges as an inspiration– and Michelangelo.
Many of these men are photographed as many as 6, 7 or 8 times so you will probably get to see a lot of your favorites. If the test for a book of photographs is whether or not you return to it again and again, then Bondi Classic gets an A+… If you can only buy one book of this kind this year, this one’s the one.
The first in an incredible series of male photography books
Andrew Nelson, December 26 2009
Bondi Classic marked the first in a series of outstanding male nude photographic books Paul Freeman has produced during the past decade. The cover portrait of the stunning George Moneta sets the tone – a handsome, rugged, athletic Australian male photographed simply and naturally. Mr Freeman’s subjects are truthfully captured – no airbrushed, shaved and waxed ‘perfect’ models found in other photographic books, but real men with real bodies, many of which are revealed in their entirety.
In addition to the fantastic diversity of subjects contained, some whom like Ryan Kwanten have gone on to considerable popularity, what is especially notable about this first work is that photographs capture only one model per shot and all are beautifully lit – Paul’s later works are characterised by a more subdued lighting and photographs are sometimes more abstract or contain several models which, although fascinating, can make identifying individual models difficult at times.
This really is a superb collection of photographs, and people interested in appreciating the beauty of the Australian male, could not do better than obtaining a copy of this outstanding book.