What at first glance looks like the umpteenth collection of picture-perfect postcards painted by some romantic British watercolourist, at closer inspection reveals itself as a panoramic retrospective on a passionate traveller’s life.
Retired GP Adam Galloway surprised and wowed his former patients and all art lovers with his first ever solo exhibition showing some fifty relatively small framed paintings, half of which were inspired by Gibraltar and the nearby region. His work was well received, hailed as fresh and innovative yet traditional.
Adam traces on paper and board in acrylics and watercolours, his memories made under Australia’s clear skies, amidst Baltic mists, and across Mediterranean blues from Gibraltar, Malta, and the stony Greek temples of Agrigento or the baroque architecture of cream-coloured Palermo. With skill, he effortlessly turns cliché holiday snapshots into artwork of classic calibre, with contemporary highlights and sometimes an abstract twist.
With vibrant colours worthy of abstract post-modern work, married with realistic cityscapes and landscapes, Adam’s pictures are attractive and easy on the eye and complement any style, while their affordable prices – no more than £300 including frame and glass – make little snippets of the world accessible to almost everyone.
As mentioned above, a large chunk of Adam’s attention is dedicated to Gibraltar, which he describes as his never-ending inspiration because of its ever-changing light and its vibrant colours. He claims that he always hunts for the unusual angle or light, avoiding the over-exploited profile of the Rock in its totality, and instead going for details like the halo of light around a streetlamp in a rainy night, or the corrugated tin rooftops at Catalan Bay opening towards the azure sea, or the sharp green of prickly pears, and even the blocky presence of grey tombstones scattered in the greenery beneath his window.
The human shape seldom features, and when it does, it is always blended in the scene, like in the case of the divers from rock formations or the ‘Cefalù Fishermen’, with two delightful exceptions: the portraits of ‘Luke and Sparky’ and ‘Father and Son’, from the Finland series, capturing intimate family moments at the fireplace of the just sketched wooden cabin.
Elsewhere, nature is the focus, whether quiet and gentle or swelling into a storm, like the view of Tarifa beach under leady clouds, so different from the summery views we’re addicted to, or wild and uncontaminated like ‘Barbate Marismas’ and ‘Sirpa’, or coy witness to man’s past glory, like the vegetation embracing the columns of the Greek temples in Agrigento, Sicily.
The artist relishes how the light bounces on everything it bathes, whether with the grayish transparent tinge of northern latitudes or the saturated energy of the tropics: the Australian series transmits a lively sense of warmth with luxuriant trees tempering the hotness of the day and the stark contrast of shadows, while the Baltic is crepuscular but not melancholic, communicating a sense of peace and stillness like one may feel right in anticipation of Saint Lucy’s candlelit procession striding past.
All paintings but one – the snowfield, from a picture by a professional photographer friend – are the development of Adam’s original pictures which he snaps aplenty whenever he scouts a view that could potentially be ‘paintable’: “If I am really inspired, I start painting as soon as I can after having seen it, not to lose the vibe.”
And all paintings, but one, are landscapes: the notable exception is a group portrait of his son’s football team – aptly titled ‘Team’ – lined up in a pep-talk collective hug right before the match, their red uniforms standing out on the green and on the overcast sky.
Doctor Galloway, as he is mostly known in Gibraltar for having practised as a physician at the Health Centre for decades, started painting in his childhood and continued in his teenage years, when he mused about pursuing a career in architecture, but eventually chose to become a medical doctor, and so his artistic flair was put on hold.
“I was born in Cumbria, in the Lake District, and moved to London for medical school,” he recalls. There I met my wife Marguerite Vassallo, a doctor herself. She is from Malta and introduced me to the island and to Sicily.” In fact, Malta plays a big part in Adam’s art with his most genuine compositions, oozing affection for the land and its people’s traditions. He continues: “Marguerite is of Gibraltarian ancestry, so we drove here to spend some time on our way to New Zealand, but posts became available locally – and we stayed ever since!”
And if you think that a doctor’s frame of mind, so aseptic and clinical, may be incompatible with the flourishes of fine arts, think again: “Doctors are trained to observe, so I like to scout and pick out the beauty around me.”
To view and purchase Adam’s art, visit adamartgalloway on Instagram.