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Joel Simon's oil paintings depict complex worlds that reframe the everyday.

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A storyteller from a young age, Joel Simon uses his brush to compose elaborate urban environments, enigmatic characters, and emotionally driven scenes in a style described as Narrative Realism.


The architecture of the modern metropolis takes a leading role alongside the human figure.

There is a visceral energy of the streets and a voyeuristic apprehension as the indoors and outdoors meld together.


Manipulating this tension between the public and the private, Simon invites us to look in on the personal moments often overshadowed by the cacophony of the city.


His paintings depict familiar scenarios through the prism of a cinematic aesthetic.


Simon's career as a film maker has had an undeniable influence on his painting practice.

An aura of Film Noir echoes in his compositions through the dramatic casting of lights, contrasting hues, and the ethereal quality of his brushstrokes.

Through this juxtaposition of period references and contemporary settings, Simon's work is imbued with a timeless essence.

Shannon Permenter, Art Critic

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Joel Simon originates from Belgium where he studied fine arts at the Académie Royale de Liège and resides in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Exhibitions and Awards

  • Solo exhibition ‘Urban Dreams’  Artisann Gallery, Belfast  May 2024

  • Solo exhibition ‘In Vogue’  Emporium Gallery, Belfast  February - March 2024

  • Solo exhibition ‘Night & Day’ Atypical Gallery, Belfast  December 2023 - January 2024

  • Selected for the 2023 Royal Scottish Academy Annual Exhibition

  • 145th Dublin Painting & Sketching Club Annual Exhibition 2023

  • Gallery 545 Contemporary Art of Northern Ireland Group Exhibition, Island Arts Centre 2023

  • D31 Spring Group Exhibition, Doncaster England  2023

  • Selected for the 2022 Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Annual Exhibition 

  • Gallery 545 Contemporary Art of Northern Ireland Group Exhibition, Island Arts Centre 2022

  • 139th Royal Ulster Academy, Ulster Museum Oct 2020-Jan 2021

  • Selected for the 2020 Kings House Art Gallery Stratford-Upon-Avon Annual Exhibition

  • 138th Royal Ulster Academy, Ulster Museum Oct 2019-Jan 2020

  • Solo exhibition ‘Faces of Belfast’ featured as part of Belfast International Arts Festival 2019 

  • 136th Royal Ulster Academy, Ulster Museum Oct 2017-Jan 2018

  • La Menagerie’ Group Exhibition,  Belfast 2015 

  • Selected to represent Northern Ireland at the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad

Winner of  2023 American Art Awards / Category ‘Landscape with Life’

Shortlisted for The 2023 New Emergence Art Prize, UK  

Shortlisted 2023 Visual Arts Open International

Received iDA Arts & Disability Awards in  2016 & 2020 

Prior to painting, Joel Simon worked in the film and animation industry as a director,

winning over 50 international awards, and collaborating with renowned artists such as

Seamus Heaney, Richard Curtis, and Billy Connolly. 

Making a transition into oil painting, he became fascinated by narrative paintings by using cinematic compositions and stylised poses.

His aim is to convey his subject’s emotional inner life in a clear distilled aesthetic form. 

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