For a painter as accomplished and prolific as David Crone RHA, this retrospective exhibition Echoes and Reflections held in his seventy- ninth year, can only hope to scratch the surface of a remarkable body of work. 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 transubstantiation. People, buildings, barriers are in a constant state of flux, and there are no fixed events, no resting narratives, only movement.
Crone has said: ‘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 it’s 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.
Born in the Lisburn Road area of Belfast in 1937, Crone taught art for over thirty years, both at Annadale Grammar School (1963 – 1975) and, until 2001, at Belfast College of Art. A respected and well-liked teacher whose subtle influence and quiet encouragement is acknowledged by generations of students.
Featuring key works from throughout Crone’s career, David Crone: Echoes and Reflections brings together paintings from public and private collections and is co-curated by Riann Coulter, Curator of the F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Feargal O’Malley, Curator at Ulster University. This exhibition is a cross-border collaboration between the F.E. McWilliam Gallery and the RHA.
On behalf of both institutions, we would like to thank all the public and private collections who have generously lent work to this exhibition. These include the Irish Museum of Modern Art, National Museums of Northern Ireland, the Arts Council of Ireland/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, The Bar of Northern Ireland, Kelly’s Resort Hotel, Ulster University and Allied Irish Bank.