Influenced by Photorealism

Martin Gale was born in Worcester in 1949 and moved to Ireland at a very early age. He was educated in Ireland and graduated from the National College of Art and Design in 1973. In 1975, Gale held his first solo-exhibition in the Neptune Gallery in Dublin, and in 1980, he moved to the Taylor Galleries where he has had regular solo shows ever since.

Gale’s practice responds to the contemporary Irish landscape and how people fit within it. Painting in both oils and watercolour he creates a dark commentary on rural life in modern Ireland. His painting style is influenced by twentieth century realism and 1970’s photorealism. The displacement and isolation of the figures he paints within the landscape effectively captures the anxiety surrounding identity and place felt by contemporary Ireland.

View “Cooling Down” within the collection

Cooling Down by Martin Gale

Cooling Down by Martin Gale

View “Brother” within the Collection

Brother by Martin Gale

Brother by Martin Gale

Invites us to Look Twice

“Not that he is painting Eden. The overall vision is far from pastoral, if there is pasture, it is for grazing. There is nothing prelapsarian about his furrowed fields and tyre-marked headrigs, his pick-up truck parked in the cart road, his glimpse of a flyover at the horizon or a digger with its jaw dropped, facing a pile of screenings. At the same time, the pictures don’t have designs upon us. They register injuries to the land and incursions upon it, but they don’t insist on these matters as ‘issues’: his paintings are ‘green’ right enough, but in an older, grateful, grass green sort of way. They say- or rather they silence us to the point where we think- ‘Still and all’. They invite us to look twice, then to stand still looking until we begin to wonder if there is such a thing as innocent bystanding. They hold in a single, steady, local focus the reality and anxiety of the times.” – Seamus Heaney

In 2004, gale was the subject of a major retrospective, held first in the RHA Gallagher Gallery, and subsequently in the Ulster Museum in Belfast in 2005. This was under the auspices of the Nissan Art Project, which took a concentrated review of his work over the previous decade, with a coda added of paintings from the late seventies through the eighties.

Gale has exhibited widely in Ireland, England, Europe and the USA. His work can be found in many public, corporate and private collections. He has been a full member of the Royal Hibernian Academy since 1996, where he is presently the Keeper, and a member of Aosdana since its inception.


  • Born in Worcester, England, 1949
  • Educated in Newbridge College, Co. Kildare, 1959-1965
  • Blackrock Academy, Lr. Mount St. (Willie Martin’s), 1965-1966
  • National College of Art and Design, Dublin, 1968-1973
  • Elected member of Aosdana, 1982
  • Elected full member of Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA), 1996
  • Lives and works in Co. Kildare.

Solo Exhibitions

  • ‘MartinGale’, Fenton Gallery, Cork, 2008
  • Recent Paintings, Taylor Galleries, Dublin, 2006
  • Nissan Art Project, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin and 
Ulster Museum, Belfast, 2004-2005
  • Lost Fields, Fenton Gallery, Cork, 2002
  • Hardlands, Taylor Galleries, Dublin, 2001
  • Two Places, Taylor Galleries, Dublin, 1996
  • Still Life Paintings, Taylor Galleries, Dublin, 1992
  • New Paintings, Taylor Galleries, Dublin, 1989
  • Drawings, Galway Arts Centre, Nun’s Island, Galway, 1988
  • Beyond the Garden Wall, Taylor Galleries, Dublin, 1987
  • Artists Response, Arts Council/ An Chonhairle Ealaion, touring
exhibition, 10 venues throughout Ireland, 1981-1982  ,
  • Paintings, Taylor Galleries, Dublin, 1981
  • Neptune Gallery, Dublin, 1974

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • Storylines, John Martin Gallery, London, 2009
  • Artists’ Choice, John Martin Gallery, London, 2008
  • Martin Gale Selects, Fenton Gallery, Cork, 2007
  • Irish Art of the Seventies- Modernist Irish Art 1960-1990. IMMA and The Crawford Art Gallery, Dublin and Cork, 2006-2007
  • Reflections, An Exhibition of Contemprary Art Works from The Department of Finance & Personnel and Office of Public Works, touring exhibition, 2006
  • The West as Metaphor, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, 2005-2006
  • Siar 50, Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Dublin, 2005-2006
  • From Landscape, Mermaid Arts Centre and touring Irish venues, 2005-2006
  • On Reflection, Modern Irish Art 1960s-1990s, a selection from the Bank of Ireland Art collection, Crawford Municipal Gallery, Cork, 2005-2006
  • Across Boundaries, Department of Finance & Personnel, touring 
exhibition, 2005
  • Four Now, A joint exhibition of The Arts Council/ An Chomhairle Ealaion and The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Lewis Glucksman Gallery, UCC,Cork, 2005
  • In the Time of Shaking, Irish Artists for Amnesty International, IMMA, 2004
  • Some Recent Irish Painting, Messum’s Fine Art, London, 2003
  • Recent Irish Art from the A.I.B Group Collection, Ulster Museum, Belfast, 2002
  • Bank of Ireland Recent Acquisitions, B.O.I Arts Centre, Dublin, 2002
  • Friends of Sean McSweeney, Boyle Arts Festival, Roscommon, 2001
  • Ireland Today, Messum’s Fine Art, London, 2000
  • Four Artists, Vanguard Gallery, Co. Cork, 2000
  • An Artists Century, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin And Ormeau Baths, Belfast, 2000
  • John Shinnors Selection, Lavitt Gallery, Cork, 1999
  • Visions of Israel, Dublin Castle, Dublin Davis Gallery, Dublin, 1998
  • Fair to Mizen, two-person exhibition(with Dermot Seymour), Boathouse Gallery, Co.Cork, 1998
  • Gatewayt to Art, Aer Rianta, Dublin, 1997-2000
  • The Irish Eye, Morgan Allen Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia, 1997,
  • Art Inc. Guinness Hop Store, Dublin, 1998
  • Living Landscapes, 1987-1996, 1996
  • NCAD, 250 Drawings, 1746-1996, 1996
  • National Self-Portrait Collection of Ireland, Touring Exhibition, 1990
  • RHA Annual Exhibition, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, 1990-2009
  • Images from Ireland, Brussels, Belgium, 1989
  • Selector Living Landscape, West Cork Art Centre, Skibbereen Co. Cork, 1988
  • Living Landscape, West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen, Co. Cork, 1987-1989
  • Heroes, Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaion, touring exhibition, 1987
  • Disposition, Brussels, Belgium, 1987
  • AIB Collection, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin, 1986
  • Participated in Action pour Les Arts Plastiques en Milieu Rural Les Bovins Exhibition, touring various French venues, 1981-1983
  • Represented Ireland in X1 Biennale de Paris. Selected work touring to Nice, Lisbon and Finland, 1980
  • International Connection, Sense of Ireland Festival, London, 1980
  • Realism Now, Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaion, touring Exhibition, 1977-1978
  • Represented Ireland in Young Artists ’73, Union Carbide Building,New York, 1973
  • Two-Person exhibition (with John Devlin), Davis Gallery, Dublin, 1972
  • Irish Exhibition of Living Art, Dublin, 1971-1981
  • Oireachtas Exhibition (Award Winner 1973), Dublin, 1971- 1980

Public Collections

  • The Arts Council/AnChomhairle Ealaion
  • Bank of Ireland, Dublin
  • Investment Bank of Ireland, Dublin
  • Dublin City Gallery, Hugh lane
  • AIB Group
  • Office of Public Works, Dublin
  • PJ. Carroll &Co. Ltd. Dundalk
  • ESB Moneypoint, Co.Clare
  • European Investment Bank, Luxembourg
  • National Self-Portrait Collection, Limerick
  • Municipal Gallery, Waterford
  • Waterford Institute of Technology
  • Athlone Institute of Technology
  • Bord na Mona
  • First National Building Society
  • Crawford Municipal Gallery, Cork
  • European Parliament, Strasbourg
  • Wesley College, Dublin
  • Irish Farm Centre
  • Kildare Co. Council
  • IMI
  • Chester Beatty Library, Dublin
  • Ulster Bank
  • Permanent TSB
  • Dundalk Institute of Technology
  • Irish Museum of Modern Art
  • Department of Finance & Personnel, Belfast
  • University College Cork

Contact Information