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Tom Polo (b. 1985, Sydney Australia) uses painting and painted environments to explore how conversation, doubt and gesture are embodied within abstracted acts of portraiture. Frequently incorporating text and figurative elements, his works draw upon acute observations, absurdist encounters, personal histories and imagined personas. An ongoing interest across his practice is the emotional and performative relationships between people within social, theatrical and psychological space.

Polo holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons. Class 1) and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of New South Wales Art & Design. Since 2007, he has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Australia and internationally.

Recent projects include: Meditation on a Bone, Heide Museum of Modern Art, VIC (2018); Primavera 2017, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, NSW (2017);(These Things) Tell Me More About You, Mornington Peninsular Regional Gallery, Mornington, VIC (2017); Looking at Me Through You, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney (2017); Emotional Patrol, STATION, Melbourne (2017); Painting. More Painting, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, VIC (2016); and What Goes On Here, Spectrum Now, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2016). 

Polo was awarded the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship in 2015 and completed residencies at the Cit� Internationale des Arts, Paris and ACME Studios, London in 2016 and Artspace, Sydney in 2017.

CV Tom Polo

Born 1985 Sydney, Australia

Lives and works in Sydney

EDUCATION

2009-11

Masters of Fine Arts (Research) – College of Fine Arts, UNSW

2003 – 07

Bachelor of Fine Arts – Painting (Honours Class 1) – College of Fine Arts, UNSW

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2021

linger, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

stains, stages, strangers, Station Gallery, Melbourne

2020

exit strategy, STATION, Melbourne

2019

I still thought you were looking, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

It’s all a costume though you see, STATION, Melbourne

2018

of defence and doubt, Galerie Transit, Mechelen, Belgium

2017

(These things) tell me more about you, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Mornington

Emotional Patrol, STATION, Melbourne

2016

Recent Positions, STATION, Melbourne

What Goes On Here, Tom Polo for Spectrum Now, Art Gallery of New South Wales

2015

The fool faces sideways, STATION, Melbourne, VIC

2014

Even the best of us, STATION at Spring 1883, The Hotel Windsor, Melbourne

Spring 1883, The Hotel Windsor, STATION, Melbourne

2013

Ways, KALIMANRAWLINS, Melbourne

Many Hands, West Space, Melbourne

Future Figurative (New Personas), Gallery 9, Sydney

2012

GESTURES AND MISTAKES, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne

2011

DISAPPOINTED WITH EVERYTHING (It Happens), GRANTPIRRIE, Redfern

DISAPPOINTED WITH MANY PEOPLE & THINGS, ACME Project Space, London, UK

Hit & Miss, Parramatta Artists Studios, Parramatta, NSW

2009

The 2009 B.E.S.T Contemporary Art Prize, MOP, Sydney

CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN, GRANTPIRRIE, Sydney

One-Liner or Suggestions for Conversation in Social Situations, Firstdraft, Sydney

2007

An Excessive Aesthetic, Firstdraft, Sydney

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2022

Free/State, 2022 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia (forthcoming)

2021

Ten Year Show, STATION Gallery, Melbourne

2020

A Painting Show, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

Contact Us, Cement Fondu, Sydney

2019

Sydney Contemporary, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

The National, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

The Whiteley at 20: Twenty Years of the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney

Art Brussels 2019, Galerie Transit, Mechelen, Belgium

2018

Beyond Reason: exploring the logic of the imagination, QUT Art Museum, Brisbane

WORD, Hugo Michell, Adelaide

Meditation on a bone: Albert Tucker beyond the modern, curated by Glenn Barkley, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne

Melbourne Art Fair, STATION, Melbourne

2017

Primavera 2017: Young Australian Artists, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

Masters of Three Worlds, COMA, Sydney

‘Looking at Me Through You’, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney

2016

Painting, More Painting, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne

Narratives, Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide

Green Eyed Monster Eating Its Own Tail, Art Month Sydney

2015

NSW Visual Arts Fellowship (Emerging) Exhibition, Artspace, Sydney

STATION at Spring 1883, The Establishment, Sydney

BWTAS Finalists’ Exhibition, Brett Whiteley Studio, Sydney

Che Cosa, Wollongong City Gallery, Wollongong, NSW

West Space Annual Fundraiser, West Space, Melbourne

Façade, Parramatta Artists Studios at Artereal Gallery, Rozelle, NSW

Glazed and Confused, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, Sydney

2014

Art Bar curated by Lara Thoms, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney   

The List, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown, NSW

Ready Player One, Station, Melbourne

Contemporary Fiction, Breezeblock, Sydney

2013

Art & Australia Collection 2003-13, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, Sydney

The NSW Visual Arts Fellowship for Emerging Artists, Artspace, Sydney

Face Off, Wellington St Projects, Sydney

Sedition, BUS Projects, Melbourne

Extended Operations, KALIMANRAWLINS, Melbourne

As Above, So Below, MOP Projects, Sydney

Uncertain Pastures: Matthew Hopkins and Tom Polo, Utopian Slumps, Melbourne

2012

Time & Vision: New work from Australian Artists, The Bargehouse, London, UK

Facial (with Matthew Hopkins & Mary McDougall), TCB Art Inc, Melbourne

As Above, So Below, Alaska Projects at Good Children Gallery, New Orleans, US

2011

Helen Lempriere Travelling Art Scholarship, Artspace, Sydney

I was here, The Lockup Cultural Centre, Newcastle, NSW

Trophy Wife, curated by Sarah Jones, Death Be Kind, Melbourne

For The Lulz, Tin Sheds Gallery, University of Sydney, Sydney

Dot Dot Dot, curated by Lisa Radford, Lismore Regional Gallery, Lismore, NSW

2010

Friends, TCB Art Inc, Melbourne

Campbelltown Arts Centre Project Room, Melbourne Art Fair, Melbourne

Breadcrumb Winner, PLATFORM, Melbourne

SafARI, curated by Lisa Corsi and Danielle Hairs, Firstdraft Gallery, Sydney

No Right Turn, Penrith Regional Gallery and Lewers Bequest, Penrith

Territorial Pissings, Utopian Slumps Gallery, Melbourne

2009

I AM THE MESSAGE, Lismore Regional Gallery, Lismore, NSW

Why do we do the things we do, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, Perth

No Identifiable Culture, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney

This is what the edge of your seat was made for, Boxcopy, Brisbane

2008

Current: Sculpture Projects in the River City, Parramatta, Sydney

The Year of the Bird, Hawkesbury Regional Gallery

Laith McGregor, Tom Polo, Emily Portmann, Jackson Slattery, Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney

2007

Winners are Grinners (December Show), Gallery 9, Sydney

CURATORIAL PROJECTS

2015

It’s funny, like HA-HA funny, January Artbar, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, NSW

2012

There’s a hole in the sky, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown, Sydney

Anything, Everything and One Other Thing (Parts 1-5), ALASKA Projects, Kings Cross, Sydney

2011

YES I CAN/NO CAN DO, Blacktown Arts Centre, Blacktown, Sydney

2009

I’m worse at what I do best, Parramatta Artists Studios, Sydney, Sydney

AWARDS, GRANTS, PRIZES AND RESIDENCIES

2021

Sir John Sulman Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (finalist)

Ramsay Art Prize, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (finalist)

2020

Sir John Sulman Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (finalist)

Parramatta Artists’ Studios, Parramatta, Sydney

2018

Palazzo Monti Residency, Brescia, IT

Archibald Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (finalist)

2017

Sir John Sulman Prize, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney (finalist)

Art Space residency, Sydney

2016

Cité Internationale des Arts residency, Paris

ACME Studios residency, London

2015

Creative Fellowship Fund, Parramatta City Council, NSW, (winner)

The NSW Visual Arts Fellowship (Emerging), Artspace, Sydney (finalist)

Brett Whiteley Traveling Scholarship (winner)

2014

The Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize, National Art School, Sydney (winner)

2013

Parramatta Artists Studios, Parramatta, Sydney

The NSW Visual Arts Fellowship for Emerging Artists (finalist)

Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards – Visual Arts (finalist)

John Fries Memorial Art Prize (finalist)

Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship, (finalist)

Hazelhurst Art on Paper, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery (finalist)

2012

Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship (highly commended)

2011

Art & Australia/ Credit Suisse Private Banking Contemporary Art Award (winner)

Australia Council for the Arts Skills & Development Grant – London Studio Residency

Helen Lempriere Travelling Art Scholarship, Artspace, Sydney (finalist)

The Lockup Cultural Centre, Newcastle, Sydney

2010

QANTAS Spirit of Youth Award – Visual Arts (finalist)

Fishers Ghost Art Prize, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown (finalist)

Parramatta Artists Studios, Parramatta, Sydney

2009

Australia Council for the Arts Skills & Development Grant – London Studio Residency

Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) for Postgraduate study, College of Fine Arts, UNSW

Fishers Ghost Art Prize, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown (finalist)

The 2009 SMAC Awards, hosted at Gallery Barry Keldoulis (finalist)

The Blake Prize for Religious Art, The Blake Society, National Art School, NSW (finalist)

Queen Street Studios at Fraser Studios, Chippendale, Sydney

2008

Fishers Ghost Art Prize, Campbelltown Arts Centre (finalist)

Churchie National Emerging Artist Exhibition, (finalist)

2007

Parramatta Artists Studios, Parramatta, Sydney

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

2019

Justin Paton, ‘Tom Polo,’ in The National: New Australian Art, 2019, pp. 130-131. Exhibition Catalogue

Eugene Yiu Nam Cheung, ‘Ways of Seeing – Tom Polo,’ Artist Profile, no. 48, 2019, p. 84-89

Tom Polo – Paris Drawings: The Most Elaborate Disguise, Perimeter Books, 2019

2018

‘Artists use text in Word’, Art Guide Australia, Zara Sigglekow

‘Critic’s Guide: Sydney’, Frieze, Sarinah Masukor

2017

Pesa, M., ‘Tom Polo: Emotional Patrol’, Art Almanac, July

2016

Preston, S., ‘Get to know Tom Polo,’ Broadsheet Sydney, March, https://www.broadsheet.com.au/sydney/art-and-design/article/studio-visit-tom-polo

2015

Forrest, N., ‘Tom Polo wins 2015 Brett Whiteley Travelling Scholarship,’ BLOUIN ARTINFO, http://au.blouinartinfo.com/news/story/1216935/tom-polo-wins-2015-brett-whiteley-travelling-art-scholarship

2014

Rugendyke, L., ‘Artist Tom Polo wins 2015 Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship,’ Sydney Morning Herald, https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/artist-tom-polo-wins-2015-brett-whiteley-travelling-art-scholarship-20150813-giyjac.html

Forrest, N., ‘Vernon Ah Kee and Tom Polo Win 2014 Redlands Art Prize,’ BLOUIN ARTINFO Australia

Galvin, N., ‘Tom Polo eavesdrops for arts sake,’ Sydney Morning Herald

Miller, C., ‘50 Things Collectors Need To Know (Cool Hunter Predictions)’, Art Collector Magazine

O’Sullivan, J., ‘Spring 1883 is the enticing boutique art fair down under,’ Artnet, http://news.artnet.com/market/spring-1883-is-the-enticing-boutique-fair-down-under-79214

Raschella, ‘A. Installation Art Comes to South-West Sydney’, ABC News, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-04/installation-art-comes-to-south-western-sydney/5790918?nw=0

2013

Barkley, G. ‘Emerge Profiles: Tom Polo,’ Artist Profile Magazine, 2013, Issue 23, pp 48 – 51

Britton, K. ‘Review: Tom Polo, Future Figurative,’ Raven Contemporary, 2013

Frost, A. ‘An Artist Walks Into A Bar,‘ Art Guide Australia, 2013, http://artguide.com.au/articles-page/show/an-artist-walks-into-a-bar

Frost, A. The A-Z of Contemporary Art, ABC Television, Australia. First Aired, 12 June 2013

Frost, A. ‘What makes us connect with an artist?’, Australian Culture – The Guardian, 22 July 2013

Rule, D., ‘In the galleries,’ The Age, 24 August 2013, https://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/your-weekend-in-the-galleries-20130823-2sfqe.html

Stanton, E. ‘Great Western Drawing, Runway’, An Australian Contemporary Art, 2013

Magazine, Issue 16: Disappearance, 2013, 86 – 89

2012

Gibb, S. ‘Art & Australia/Credit Sussie Private Banking Contemporary Art Award,’ Art & Australia magazine, 2012, Volume 49 No. 4

McSpeeden, S. ‘S&M,’ Un Magazine, 2012, Issue 6.1, 82-87

Rule, D. , In The Galleries,’ The Age, Melbourne, Feb 11, 2012

2011

Bentley, S., ‘Tom Polo,’ New Planes, issue 1, 2011

Rolfe. D, ‘People to watch,’ the (sydney) magazine – Sydney Morning Herald, Jan 27, 2011, 42

Stein, M., ‚Polo Opposites,’ The Blackmail, April 2011

Walcott, R., ‘Tom Polo: A portrait of the artist,’ October 2011

2010

Frost, A. ‘What’s next?’, Australian Art Collector, October 2010, pg 124-125

Lerkenfeldt, L. ’Tom Polo interview,’ Un Magazine, Issue 4.1, July 2010

Lopes, S. ‘Perspective: Steve Lopes on Failure,’ Artist Profile, Issue 10, 2010, 96-97

O’Sullivan, ‘J. NSW WRAP, Polo’s Double Projects,’ Australian Art Collector, Issue 53, 2010, 246

2009

Cover Design ‘The Best Thing Ever’, commissioned for Campbelltown Arts Centre, 2009 catalogue

Costantino, T. ‘Why do we do the things we do review’, The Daily Serving, 2009, https://www.dailyserving.com/2009/09/why-do-we-do-the-things-we-do/

Cunningham, D M. ‘The Best Thing Ever,’ Artnotes, Art Monthly Australia, April 2009, 57

Frost, A. ‘Everyone a winner with an arts lottery,’ Sydney Morning Herald, November 20, 2009, 19

Frost, A. ‘Being a success is overrated,’ The Sydney Morning Herald, July 22, 2009, 9

Snell T. ‚Show prises open the studio door,’ The Australian, August 25, 2009, http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,25974870-16947,00.html

‘You have already won,’ The Art Life, 2009, http://artlife.blogspot.com/2009/11/you-have-already-won.html, November 14

Wolifson, C. “Interview: Tom Polo for ‘I’m worse at what I do best’”, Das Super Paper, Issue 10, 2009

Featured on Vasili Kaliman’s Art Patrol, October 8, 2009, http://artpatrol.blogspot.com/2009/10/tom-polo-24september-24-october-2009.html

Von Sturmer, John. ‘West is When is West: A Trip Report’, Art Monthly Australia, Oct 2009, 21-23

2008

Frost, A. ‘If I Could Have (Animal Art),’ Australian Art Collector, issue 45, July 2008, 308 – 309

‘There’s A Winner In You’ series, Runway Magazine, Issue 10 Romance, autumn, 2008

2007

‘Space is the Place,’The Art Life, 14 December, artlife.blogspot.com/2007/12/space-is-place.html

COLLECTIONS

Artbank

Joyce Nissan Collection, Melbourne, Australia

Private collections in Australia, Belgium, United Kingdom and United States

Redlands Grammar, Sydney, Australia

Terrace Towers Group, Sydney, Australia

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