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Frederick Hutchison Page

 (1908 - 1984)
Frederick Hutchison Page was active/lived in South Africa.  Frederick Page is known for painting.

Frederick Hutchison Page

Biography from Stephan Welz & Co Cape Town

The work of Fred Page is probably best identified by its limited pallet and eerie subject matter.  The dark emotive quality of his oeuvre is most likely the result of his upbringing – after losing his mother at the age of 10, he was exchanged from one relative to another before landing up in an orphanage.  Page first moved to Port Elizabeth, the city with which his art has become synonymous, in 1937 to work in a tire factory, having previously traipsed from one job to another after a short stint in the military.  During World War II, Page returned to the military serving in the Signal Corps.  It was only in 1945 after the war had ended that Page decided to become an artist.

His initial training was by correspondence.  Upon reception of a grant awarded to him as an ex-serviceman, Page went on to study at the Port Elizabeth School of Arts and Crafts from 1945 – 1947, where he was guided by the watchful eye of Jack Heath – a product of the post-war Royal Academy of Art.  Page created surreal imagery, portraying the real world and the unexpressed world generated by human behavior.  Page shares many formal and conceptual qualities with the Surrealist movement.  He often incorporated De Chirico’s use of monumental architecture as a means of creating a dislocation of the real, depicting elusive psychic experiences, possibly also influenced by his love for science fiction literature.  His compositions are constructed like theatrical sets, as is evident in Shopfront where the white architecture and black, faceless windows, so typical of Page’s work, are found in the center of the composition, and are framed on either side by classical columns.  A set of three steps revealing Page’s incorporation of deep perspective, lead up to the set of doors separating two shop windows, revealing a dismembered mannequin in each window.  Page recorded architectural features in great detail, as in the dark, cast iron railing of the fence in the foreground of The Presence.  A statue of an angel carrying a trumpet is situated in what appears to be a city park, but the strange presence of an elephant and the phallic statue that flank her, suggest otherwise.  The winged angel is an example of the macabre that Page often represented, having enjoyed visiting graveyards.  Death remained a consistent theme that pervaded his work.  Although Page himself denied the meaning of his own work, the pieces he created present a situation, evoking emotional tension rather than simply conveying a narrative.  Proud, H.,

Revisions: Expanding the Narrative of South African Art, SA History Online and UNISA Press, Cape Town, 2006.

Wright, J. & Kerbel, C., Fred Page: Ringmaster of the Imagination, Cecil Kerbel and Jeanne Wright, Port Elizabeth, 2001

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About  Frederick Hutchison Page

Born:  1908
Died:   1984
Known for:  painting