Tom Polo (b. 1985) uses painting to explore how conversation, gesture and exchange are embodied acts of portraiture. Working between abstraction and figuration, his paintings blur boundaries between the self and others, to mask and unveil the complexities of our inner worlds. Drawing upon acute observation, social encounters and personal histories, Polo’s practice records the emotional and performative relationships between people within social, theatrical and psychological space.
Polo holds a BFA and MFA from the University of New South Wales, Sydney (Australia). He has exhibited extensively across Australia. Recent curated shows include: FREE/STATE, the 2022 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art; Contact Us, Cement Fondu, Sydney (2020); The National, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2019); Beyond Reason: exploring the logic of the imagination, Queensland University of Technology Art Museum (2018); and Primavera 2017: Young Australian Artists, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2017).
He has been a finalist of many prestigious art prizes in Australia, including the Archibald Prize (2018), the Sir John Sulman Prize (2021, 2019), the Ramsay Art Prize (2021), amongst others. He is the winner of the 2015 Brett Whiteley Traveling Scholarship and the Parramatta Creative Fellowship, City of Parramatta, Australia; and in 2011 was awarded the Credit Suisse Private Banking Contemporary Art Award. Polo’s works are in numerous public and private collections, such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; Artbank, Australia; and the Joyce Nissan Collection, Melbourne, Australia.