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Fred Cress A Hidden Place

Fred Cress Hidden Place

Frederick Cress was born in Poona, India, on 10th July 1938 but moved to England with his parents in 1948. He was educated at the Birmingham College of Art in England, and later migrated to Australia in 1962 as a "ten pound Pom", meaning that he only had to pay ten pound for his fare to Australia. Cress met the painter Anne Judell and married her in 1967.  He started his career painting figuratively, but became well known for his abstract work in the late 60s and 70s with a number of sell-out shows and official recognition. Following Cress’ decision to paint full-time rather than teaching, his work had more of a graphic edge in response to criticism and resentment in some of the art circles in Sydney.  

In 1981, Fred Cress had a mid-life crisis which lasted for 9 months after a difficult but productive 2 years work and difficulties with his marriage. Cress is said to have snapped out of his crisis during his exhibition at the 5th Indian Triennale by stating that ‘you can’t stay ego-centred in India’. The visit to India led to a greater awareness of self and of his ’essential subject- secrecy, hiddenness and intimacy’.  He returned to figurative painting in the late 80s after he won the Archibald Prize with a portrait of his friend and colleague, John Beard. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2003 for services to visual arts.

In 1990 Cress bought a 17th-century stone farmhouse in Southern Burgundy, France. He spent the next 20 years of his life living half the year in France and half the year in Sydney with his partner, the photographer, Victoria Fernandez. Many of Cress's later works have visual references to his time spent in France.

Cress died on 14th October 2009, aged 71 whilst working on his last exhibition, entitled 'End Game One', held in Australian Galleries, Paddington. He died on 14 October 2009.

Fred Cress painting 'A Hidden Place'.

A Hidden Place by Fred Cress.

Purchased in September 2015, this painting hi-lights the figurative and abstract nature of Fred Cress’ art. Set in a clearing in the bush, the boots and high-heel shoes are representative of human nature. It is an abstract scene devoid of people yet one can guess what the scene may have been. Many of Fred Cress’ later works of a similar size have the same graphic edge but are full of human activity which hi-lights even further the abstract nature of this work.  According to Laura Murray Cree, Cress’ paintings observe the nexus between human weakness and treachery, or to borrow from Jean-Paul Sartre, the hell that is ‘other people’.

Fred Cress painting 'Secrets 24

Secrets 24 by Fred Cress

A Hidden Place is one of two works of art in the University of Canberra’s Art Collection by Fred Cress. The second work of art is a work on paper called Secrets 24. This work is part of a series of abstract images that conjure up large sheets of fabric partly exposing clothing and other detritus. The image works very much in the same way as ‘A Hidden Place’. It is suggestive of human nature.

If you like this work, you may like to explore similar works of art in the same style by Paula Rego.

Select Bibliography

Laura Murray Cree, Australian Painting Now,

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