Tom Polo

Western Sydney based artist working with painting to explore the performative relationships of people within physical and psychological space.

Tom Polo uses painting and installation with text and figurative elements to explore how doubt, gesture, tension and desire are embodied within extended acts of portraiture. The caricatures that arise in his work, drawn from acute observations and encounters, pictorialise the performative relationships between himself, others and an ‘audience’, as well as the role of personas — imagined as well as the artist’s own — in mediating a reading of social space.

Polo holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons. Class 1) and Master of Fine Arts from UNSW. He has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Australia and the United Kingdom. In 2007, Polo was an inaugural recipient of the Parramatta Artists’ Studios residency, where he periodically developed much of his practice until 2014. Recent exhibitions include Primavera 2017: Young Australian Artists, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; (These things) tell me more about you, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Mornington 2017; Emotional Patrol, STATION, Melbourne 2017; Recent Positions, STATION, Melbourne, 2016; Painting. More Painting, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2016; WHAT GOES ONHERE, Spectrum Now, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2016; Narratives, Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide, 2016; The National Works on Paper Prize, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, 2016; and the 2015 NSW Visual Arts Fellowship (Emerging), Artspace, Sydney.

In 2015, Polo was announced as the recipient of the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship and additionally awarded the Parramatta City Council Creative Fellowship. He won the 2014 Redlands Konica Minolta Emerging Art Prize and the Art & Australia / Credit Suisse Private Banking Contemporary Art Award in 2011. In 2016, Polo completed residencies at the Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris and the Associate Artist Residency with ACME Studios, London. This year, he was a finalist in the Sir John Sulman Prize and is a current One Year Studio Resident at Artspace, Sydney.

Tom Polo is represented by STATION, Melbourne.

In this video Polo chats to NAVA about the importance of consistency in work and practice, and the benefits of studio programs and residencies.

Video Production: Dominic Kirkwood.

Photo: 2017 One Year Studio Artist Tom Polo in his Artspace Studio, by Maja Baska.