Fred Cress began as a figurative painter but established his reputation in Australia as an abstract painter only to astonish the art world by returning to figuration in 1988. Born in Pune, India in 1938, Cress moved with his family to England in 1948 during the turbulent period which followed the granting of India’s independence.
In 1954, Cress studied at the Birmingham College of Art where his training taught him much about the discipline of drawing from the model, but little else. In June 1965, he staged his first solo exhibition at the Argus Gallery. Cress spent some years as an abstract artist “to learn how to make paint live for itself” and then many more as a quasi-abstractionist. Cress’s best abstract work was from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s across colour-modulated surfaces implying depth and, by extension, narrative.
This latter phase was particularly productive in 1985 with the “Stages” and “Secrets” drawings and paintings. He moved away from abstraction in the mid-1980s with the introduction of recognisable objects and figurative forms. A distinguishing feature of Cress’s figuration is that it is not based on photographs. Everything comes from his imagination and his experience of life. In 1988, he produced the “Tell Tales” series of drawings which were the beginnings of his re-emergence as a figurative artist. That year he won the Archibald Prize and Peoples’ Prize. Cress had many highly successful solo exhibitions of his figurative work. His works are included in major collections across Australia and overseas. He died in 2009.
Hamilton Art Gallery,
Rockhampton Art Gallery, Qld.
Albury Art Gallery, Vic.
Ballarat Art Gallery, Vic.
Benalla Art Gallery, Vic.
Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Qld.
Bendigo Art Gallery, Vic.
McClelland Art Gallery, Vic.
New England Regional Art Museum, NSW
Newcastle Art Gallery, NSW
Peninsula Art Gallery, Vic.
Adademi, New Dehli, India
Bibliotheque Nationale de France, France
Art Gallery of New South Wales, NSW
Art Gallery of South Australia, SA
Art Gallery of Western Australia, WA
National Gallery of Victoria, Vic.
Queensland Art Gallery, Qld.
Tasmanian Art Gallery and Museum, Tas.
Parliament House Collection, ACT
Queen Victoria Art Gallery and Museum, Tas.
Broken Hill Art Gallery, NSW
Wollongong Art Gallery, NSW
Shepparton Art Gallery, Vic.
Townsville Art Gallery, Qld.
Wagga Wagga Regional Art Gallery, NSW