The visceral nature of painting


Tom Polo is interested in the space between things — actions, gestures and words — and the body’s movement through the environment. Through the act of painting, Polo translates these spaces into abstracted theatrical figures representative of interior worlds, as well as everyday social interactions and personae.

“I think that my paintings are more aligned to emotional and psychological states or spaces,” says Polo. “And those things are fluid and constantly shifting. There is a sense of transformation both in me making, and in the gestures that bodies seem to be making in abstract ways, that give you an impression that there is a state of change, that something is to be revealed.”

Polo’s works start with fragments jotted down in his notebook, “my own musings, reactions and diaristic attempts to figure things out,” he says. From there, his paintings begin, often centring on hands, eyes and mouths.

“These are what I’ve referred to as pit-stops: places or positions where points of communication become performative and act as zones of desire and will.”

Polo is interested in theatrics as an aesthetic as well as a psychological strategy. In recent installations, he pushes this idea further by standing the paintings upright on the ground, like backdrops on a film set. “I think the gallery lends itself to these ideas, especially to space where we’re able to enter and exit,” says Polo. “I’m thinking about where things are staged and positioned in relation to those physical pit-stops, as well as a linear narrative about how we move through zones in space.”

exit strategy
Tom Polo
STATION Melbourne
4 July—1 August

Zara Sigglekow