David Crone was taught art by Kenneth Jamison, former Director of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, at Annadale Grammar School. He attended Belfast College of Art from 1956-61.
In 1964 he was awarded an Arts Council travel award and went to 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 where he still teaches.
Crone’s work is abstract in nature while also containing figurative and landscape elements. His 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 extensively. In 2000 the Ulster Museum organised a major retrospective exhibition of his work. Crone's work features in the collections of the Arts Councils of Northern Ireland, Ireland and England and in the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
David Crone is among the most influential painters working in Northern Ireland.