Born in Belfast, Crone’s work is largely influenced by the city's landscape
David Crone was born in Belfast in 1937, and studied at the Belfast College of Art from 1956-61. He has worked in Germany, Belgium, Italy and Holland. He taught art in Annadale Grammar School from 1963-75, and then joined the staff of the Ulster College of Art and Design.
Crone's paintings are animated by visual tensions, rhythms and encounters. Through the activity of laying down and pursuing the painted mark, the artist registers points of recognition – figurative fragments, window reflections and refractions, all-embracing security barriers and enclosures.
In his work, the city transposes itself in and out of the figure, as daily acts of urban transubtantiation. People, buildings, barriers are in a constant state of flux, and there are no fixed events, no resting narratives, only movement.
In 1980 Crone stated: 'As a source I look at the day to day experience of people about their own business in the streets, in buses, in trains, inside and outside buildings. The environment shows that more violent happenings are taking place. It is patched up and somehow made to work. It is the resulting juxtapositions which I find fascinating.'
Recently, Crone has become less concerned with environment, preferring close-ups of heads and figures. This work leans towards abstraction, but never jettisons figurative residue – a facial profile, a hand, a delineated arm. At its most abstract and melancholic, these paintings recall symbolist imagery rather than expressionist anger.
Joy for Crone is in the pleasure of using paint. This emotion, however, seldom infects the disposition of the characters, who often appear weighted with a collective depression – heads bowed or introspective, when indeed a facial expression can be read. This movement has been accompanied by an increased tendency to paint in acid shades of lemons, blues and greens, with dappled and mottled patterns appearing in light and dark.
Crone has exhibited widely, and in 2000 the Ulster Museum organised a major retrospective exhibition of his work.