William Crozier is an artist who defies categorisation. He was born in Glasgow to Irish parents and, in the latter part of his life, lived near Ballydehob in West Cork. He was proud of his Irish roots and became an Irish citizen as a gesture of solidarity when British troops moved into Northern Ireland. Despite his roots, he fits into neither the Scottish Colourist nor the Irish landscape tradition. There are similarities to the German Expressionist Emil Nolde and Picasso was certainly an early influence. Crozier liked to be judged within the context of European art and he was also much influenced by literature and particularly the Existential movement. He spent time in Paris on the periphery of a group presided over by Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.
Crozier is best known for his brightly coloured landscapes, which have been refined and reduced to flat patterns of colour. These bear little relationship to the locations referred to in their titles – nor are they meant to. Crozier asserted: ‘Landscape is not the subject, it is the vehicle through which I can express intangible things. Things which have no narrative. Loss, memory – all can be done through the language of landscape.’
Two of Crozier’s later works are on offer at Bonhams British and Irish Art sale. Both were painted in 2005, probably in the Haute Provence or following a visit there. (After a disastrous fire in his Hampshire studio in 2001, a friend offered him a house in the Provence and he spent many subsequent summers there.) The works from that location, perhaps influenced by the blinding brightness of the Provençal sun, are reduced further to a classical simplicity. Summer Storm and Garden Storm are two very fine examples of Crozier’s late period and are both guiding at a modest £5,000 to £7,000.
John P O’Sullivan