"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 father worked in motorsport, designing racing cars, so my eyes were opened to an extraordinary 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 interesting 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, San Francisco, Paris, London and a sell-out Tour de France show while also owning his own galleries in Sydney and Bowral.
Since then, it’s no coincidence that prestigious commissions have followed, for the likes of Coca Cola, London Fashion Week, Tag Heuer Watches, Porsche, Tour De France, Grey Goose Vodka, Never-Fail Spring Water and The Royal Flying Doctors. His work has become iconic, earning him front covers of art house magazines and has been compared to other greats who ‘blew the doors off’, such as Andy Warhol.
F1 Stars Jenson Button and Daniel Ricciardo couldn't of chosen a better man to bring their new French based beer brand to life. A mouth watering billboard campaign featuring flirtatious females and classic automobiles racing around the streets of Monaco have certainly made Blue Coast Beer the tipple of choice for the suave characters on the Cote d'Azur.
When looking through his catalogue of work, it speaks elegance! The impossibly toned females dressed in chic swimwear, oozing classic French fashion and sitting deliciously, temptingly, on sun kissed beaches in the French Riviera. Pearl finishes to bracelets and dresses giving that extra WOW factor, you are really treating yourself to a special piece of art.
Clean, minimal strokes bring a sense of relaxation and peacefulness in the Black and White Sketch Collection. Even the Children's Collection, depicting parents sharing their hobbies with the next generation, is playfully subtle, the lines intact.
Astute in Business and with new galleries opening in both London and Cannes, Alan and his wife Emily spend their time between properties in the Cote d'Azur and Australia's Southern Highlands.
Keep your eyes peeled for dates and exhibitions of this ever blossoming Yorkshire talent. 2019 already sees Monaco shows at prestigious Amber Lounge Fashion event under the High Patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, with Charity shows for Sir Jackie Stewart's Race Against Dementia also on the cards. With an ever growing celebrity following it's no wonder his works are becoming high in demand. Certainly worth a little investment in my eyes.
Andrew Threlfall, Feature Writer of the Independent On Sunday.