"You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!" says a sardonic, yet stylish, Michael Caine in the original 1969 heist and cars movie, 'The Italian Job'.
That classic line was pretty much how I felt when I first casually ran into Mr Alan Walsh, introduced to me by stars on the London art scene. The red wine at the free bar was about to run dry but he insisted I retire to the local pub to hear more. I had already heard glowing praises about my fellow Yorkshireman – that he was an internationally acclaimed artist but also, in the great tradition of English mavericks, that his lifestyle could be like his art - er, colourful...with the ‘doors blown right off’ into the next country. It’s no surprise comparisons have been drawn to such greats as David Hockney, for his use of light and primary colours, or perhaps as a result of spending too much time in the Australian and Los Angeles sunshine.
His work indeed brings vivaciousness and a certain vibrancy to any canvas. Still, it feels accessible, as does Alan's vibrant lust for life, so tangibly evoked in his work.
To understand the artist fully you need to understand the man fully and within an hour I was hooked on his character. Silverstone, Monaco and Monza were not the places your average child spent his weekends, but Alan did, traveling to such destinations from a very young age as a result of his father’s job.
“My dad worked in motorsport, designing racing cars, so my eyes were opened to an interesting world from a very young age. I’d be popped in the back of a car or a motor home with a colouring book and pens to keep me quiet while we travelled to and from circuits. Of course I found the racing exciting but the thing that truly mesmerized me was off the track, the sheer glitz and glamour that arrives when the Formula One roadshow comes to town. It wasn't only the places we travelled to. I was also captivated by the luxury brands that would associate with and sponsor the sport - the huge designer watches the drivers would wear, the way certain woman around the circuit would dress like they were walking down a catwalk. I loved this, and in the end I’d be drawing the subjects around me more than the cars and I'm thankful that the same subjects are reflected and resonate in my collections to this day."
By his early 20’s Alan had already created an impressive portfolio, designing and illustrating for many leading branding agencies both in the UK, US and Australia. But in 2010 he left the branding world behind, making the decision to focus solely on his art and exhibit around the Globe. That he certainly did, excelling with solo Exhibitions in Los Angeles, Cannes, San Francisco and London while also owning his own two galleries in Sydney. After 16 years in Australia the time felt right to start a new chapter and Alan and wife Emily have relocated to Monaco to open their new gallery and grow the business in Europe.
“As glamorous as it sounds it’s been far from an easy ride to get here, like the majority of the people who want to be at the top of their game I’ve had to make sacrifices and take some risks, it was only a four years ago that i was sleeping on the store room floor of my Sydney gallery because i couldn’t afford to pay for both a gallery and apartment. My game plan was ambitious however I have confidence in my ability and I knew i had to worked harder than anyone else in my field then I can achieve anything I put my mind to. The late nights had to be cut back to keep a clear head and maintain focus, I had educate myself to become more business astute, surround myself with solid team of people I trust, I used any spare money to pay for extra one on one tuition in print making, stuck to my game plan and then one by one my dreams started turning into goals”
Those sacrifices and hard work have most certainly paid off, it’s no coincidence that prestigious commissions have followed, for the likes of Artisan Drinks Co, Blue Coast Beer, Bombay Sapphire, Coca Cola, Grey Goose Vodka, Hotel Martinez, London Fashion Week, Tag Heuer Watches & Porsche to name just a few. His work has become iconic, earning him front covers of art house magazines, billboards in London’s Piccadilly circus have be illuminated with his vibrant illustrations, it’s easy to see why comparisons are made to other greats who ‘blew the doors off’, such as Andy Warhol.
When looking through Alan’s catalogue of work it speaks elegance! The impossibly toned females dressed in chic swimwear, oozing classic French fashion watching boats from the beaches of the Riviera. More recently his works feature a Navy key-lines finishing his works beautifully, you are really treating yourself to a unique timeless piece of art. Alan is one of the few top artists who actually screen prints his own work, having being privately tutored in the skills of print making from the Royal College of Art’s Daniel Bugg.
The Monaco gallery has a custom built art studio at the rear where customers can view as Alan produces his works even have their own custom piece produced. With an ever growing star studded following it’s easy to see why Alan’s limited works are becoming high in demand. Certainly worth a little investment in my eyes.
Andrew Threlfall, Feature Writer of the Independent On Sunday.