‘Musician Portraits’ is exactly what it sounds like. A series of portrait paintings of famous musicians.

Local artist, Joe Simpson, has sat down with artists including Brandon Flowers, Mark Ronson, Paloma Faith, Maxi Jazz, David Gray, Jamie Cullum and Ezra Koenig (Vampire Weekend) who have all sat for the project.

…visiting the musician’s
houses and studios…

They have been exhibited all over the country, including Manchester Art Gallery and a solo exhibition in Spinningfields’ bar/restaurant Artisan (from 21 January until 20 April 2015).

Even the background within the portraits is impressive. There are 22 paintings in the series, each piece oil on canvas, sized 60x60cm. Joe approached his favourite musicians from a wide range of musical genres and nationalities to include in the series.

LOOK at these incredible ’Musician Portraits’ showcasing in Artisan I Love Manchester

Over a year in the making, the project has been as much a challenge in making contact with the subjects and has taken Joe all over the country – to visiting the musician’s houses and studios, to backstage at arena concerts and festivals and as far as Las Vegas to meet Brandon Flowers.

Joe’s portrait of Maxi Jazz from the series was shortlisted for the prestigious BP Portrait Award 2011. The painting has been exhibited at The National Portrait Gallery in an exhibition which has been the most popular show in the gallery’s history. Because the painting is committed to the BP Portrait Award’s touring exhibition, with Maxi’s permission Joe created a new, portrait for his solo show.

LOOK at these incredible ’Musician Portraits’ showcasing in Artisan I Love Manchester

Speaking on the idea behind the pieces, Joe said “I’ve tried to root each painting in a tradition of painted portraiture – each piece has a quiet, still and almost introspective feel to them. I’d tried to capture the way that each person held themselves when I met them, usually I didn’t give the musicians a great deal of direction, or plan how I wanted the piece to turn out. These paintings have a physicality to them that you don’t get with a photograph, the paint has a specific weight and application – you can see layers and brush-marks in the hair and skin tones. I’m really excited to see all the paintings together for the first time.”

This video shows the process of putting together a pop-up gallery to exhibit the work. It looks a lot quicker and more jolly than it actually was. Thanks to everyone who came and lent a hand!

Limited edition prints of all ‘Musician Portraits’ are available for purchase. The archival quality prints are printed on 310 gsm Hahnemuhle etching paper. Each print is SIGNED and NUMBERED to a limited edition of only 50. Dimensions: 46x46cm / 40x40cm (actual image size) and cost £150 + £10 P&P.

The actual original oil paintings are for sale, if you would like to enquire about purchasing a piece, please contact sales@joe-simpson.co.uk for a price list.


Artisan, Avenue North, 18-22 Bridge Street, Manchester M3 3BZ

See more information about the show here joe-simpson.co.uk


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