Steve Salo
Steve Salo

Upcoming Duo Exhibition at Art2Muse Gallery 3 – 16 September 2024

Steve Salo is an Australian contemporary artist, best known for his emotive portraiture and expressive landscape paintings.

Through the visual voice of painting, I communicate emotion. We are complex of mind and spirit, my intent as a contemporary portrait artist is to explore the human psyche through painting these complexities. I’m interested in portraying this aspect rather than focussing on the surface level alone. My landscape paintings also go beyond the visual perception, I am more concerned with portraying the feelings evoked by being in a place.” — Steve Salo


Steve showed a natural talent for painting at a young age, getting his first oil paints at the age of eight. Of Ukrainian descent, he received early encouragement from his craftsman grandfather (‘dido’) who lived next door in Herne Hill, Geelong. His dido taught him many things, including the importance of doing your craft with love and full effort and attention. Hours upon hours in the workshop observing the patience and passion that went into his woodwork and bootmaking left an indelible mark. Respect your tools, look after them, create an environment that inspires your best work.

As a child, in and out of hospital with severe asthma, Steve found solace and self-expression through his drawings. His first studio was at age 16, the family’s outdoor bungalow amid the orchard. These early influences have carried through to the evocative paintings Steve creates today. Studying books about the master painters and experimenting in many mediums and across various subject matter, he is largely self-taught.

In his 20’s and into his 30’s, art didn’t seem to fit with the world around him and Steve painted sporadically. Working in graphic design, picture framing and a host of other jobs, he felt a deepening frustration. A fire in his Torquay studio in early 2013 brought Steve’s art to a cross-road. Losing most of his art history and materials, he realised painting was what he wanted and needed to be doing. He committed to boundless experimentation and to no longer hoarding what he created. Painting full-time since 2014 he has held numerous solo exhibitions.

Steve’s profile as a contemporary artist continues to grow, with paintings shortlisted in prestigious prizes across Australia and awarded a prize in Florence, Italy. An artist of international appeal, his works are in private collections in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, UAE, Europe, the UK, USA and Canada.

In 2017 he undertook artist residencies in coastal Portsea, Victoria and in the Hämeenkyrö lake region in Finland. Paintings from the Finland residency were shown at the Embassy of Finland in Canberra as part of the event program for the Suomi Finland 100 centenary of independence. In 2018 Steve also completed his largest-ever painting, a 2m x 3m landscape ‘Fire and Life’ for a private commission.

With a studio he calls heaven, Steve is now on his way to realising his dream; making a life and a living from his painting.


Solo Exhibitions

2021 Brushstrokes, Art2Muse Gallery, Woollahra, Sydney, NSW
2021 Sea Breeze, Blackroom Gallery, Cook Street Collective, Flinders, Vic
2021 A Plein Air Experience in the Southern Highlands, Whitewall Art Projects, Berrima, NSW
2019 Portraits, Metropolis Gallery, Geelong, Vic
2019 The Other Art Fair Sydney presented by Saatchi Art (stand with 18 paintings), NSW
2019 Pier to Point, Curved Wall Gallery, Frankston Arts Centre, Melbourne, Vic
2018 Recent Paintings, Metropolis Gallery, Vic
2018 Paintings from Finland, Embassy of Finland, Canberra, ACT
2017 The Back to Back Theatre Portraits, Curved Wall Gallery, Frankston Arts Centre, Vic
2017 Expressions of Landscape, Metropolis Gallery, Vic
2017 Halcyon Days, Epworth Gallery, Epworth Geelong Hospital, Vic
2015 Passerby, Metropolis Gallery, Vic
2014 Portraits of Artists, Metropolis Gallery, Vic


Private collections in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, UAE, Europe, the UK, USA and Canada.

Embassy of Finland Canberra, Frankston Arts Centre, St Joseph’s College Geelong, Barwon Health, Back to Back Theatre


Finalist Splash McClelland Contemporary Watercolour Award 2018
Finalist Salon des Refusés (of the Archibald) 2018
Finalist 2018 Bluethumb Art Prize
Finalist 2016 KAAF Art Prize
Finalist 2016 Len Fox Painting Award
Finalist Salon des Refusés (of the Archibald) 2016
Finalist Waverley Art Prize 2016
Commended — 2016 Kogarah Art Prize
Second Prize — CSBC Spirituality in Art Prize 2016
Finalist Wyndham Art Prize 2016
Winner Best Single Work — Celeste Prize ‘Taboo’ 2015 (Italy)
Finalist Prospect Portrait Prize 2015
Finalist Fisher’s Ghost Art Award 2015 — Contemporary category
Finalist 2015 Cliftons Art Prize
Winner Best Oil — Hobsons Bay Art Show 2015
Finalist 2015 Sunshine Coast Art Prize
Finalist 2015 Mosman Art Prize
2015 American Art Awards: Expressionism human figure — 4th Place; Self-portrait — 5th Place
Finalist 2015 Warringah Art Prize
Highly Commended — 2015 John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize
Finalist 2015 Lethbridge 10000 Award


Selected Group Exhibitions

(Upcoming) May 2022 ‘Interconnected’ curated by Beautiful Bizarre magazine, New England Regional Art Museum, NSW
2021 ‘New Beginning’, Korea-Australia Arts Foundation (KAAF), Sydney, NSW
2020 Group shows at Whitewall Art Projects, Berrima, NSW
2020 ‘Nature’s Way’, Victorian Artists’ Society
2019 Autumn Salon, Metropolis Gallery, Geelong, Vic
2018 Splash McClelland Contemporary Watercolour Award, McClelland Sculpture Park + Gallery, Langwarrin, Vic
2018 ‘From Here to Beyond’, Hawthorn Studio and Gallery, Melbourne, Vic
2018 Salon des Refusés, National Trust S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2018 Bluethumb Art Prize Exhibition, Collingwood, Vic
2018 Summer Exhibition, Hawthorn Studio & Gallery, Melbourne, Vic
2018 Alumni Exhibition, Pat Bourke Gallery, St Joseph’s College Geelong, Vic
2017 Metropolis Christmas Show, Metropolis Gallery, Geelong, Vic
2017 ‘New Directions 2017’, Hawthorn Studio and Gallery, Melbourne, Vic
2017 ‘On Water’, Deakin University Waterfront gallery, Geelong, Vic
2017 ‘Metropolis Summer Salon’, Metropolis Gallery, Geelong, Vic
2016 Korea-Australia Arts Foundation (KAAF) Art Prize, Sydney
2016 Len Fox Painting Award, Castlemaine Art Museum,
2016 Salon des Refusés, National Trust S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, then touring to the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Melbourne
2016 Portrait Exhibition, Victorian Artists’ Society, Melbourne, Vic
2016 Waverley Art Prize, WWAS Bondi, Sydney, NSW
2016 Kogarah Art Prize, Kogarah Library and Cultural Centre, Sydney, NSW
2016 ‘Winter in Metropolis’, Metropolis Gallery
2016 CSBC Spirituality in Art Prize and Exhibition: ‘Fire and Life’, Melbourne, Vic
2016 The Kirribilli Centre 40th Anniversary Art Prize, Sydney, NSW
2016 Celeste Prize ‘Taboo’ finalists exhibition, Galleria Poggiali e Forconi, Florence, Italy
2016 Wyndham Art Prize, Wyndham Art Gallery, Werribee, Vic
2016 Contemporary Exhibition, Victorian Artists’ Society, Melbourne, Vic
2016 ‘Flesh, Revealing a Passion for Paint’ (Juried Exhibition), Verum Ultimum Gallery, Portland, USA
2016 ‘Metropolis Summer Salon’, Metropolis Gallery
2016 ‘The Face of January’ Portrait and Figurative Exhibition, Camden Image Gallery, London, UK
2015 – 2016 Group exhibitions at Muse Gallery, Beechworth, Vic
2015 Prospect Portrait Prize, Prospect Gallery, Adelaide, SA
2015 Fisher’s Ghost Art Award, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney, NSW
2015 Toorak Village Art Walk, Vic
2015 Tatiara Art Prize, Walkway Gallery, Bordertown, SA
2015 Cliftons Art Prize, Melbourne finalists exhibition, Vic
2015 Hobsons Bay Art Show, Williamstown, Melbourne, Vic
2015 Sunshine Coast Art Prize, Caloundra Regional Gallery, Qld
2015 ‘Movement in Art’, Cube Gallery, Frankston Arts Centre, Vic
2015 Mosman Art Prize, Mosman Art Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2015 Warringah Art Prize, Warringah Creative Space, Sydney, NSW
2015 Trinity College Art Exhibition, Albury, NSW
2015 Bayside Art Show, Sandringham, Melbourne, Vic
2015 Cossack Art Awards, The Pilbara region, WA
2015 John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize, Penola, SA
2015 Lethbridge 10000 Award, Lethbridge Gallery, Brisbane, Qld
2015 ‘Metropolis Summer Salon’, Metropolis Gallery


Residencies and Projects

2021 Two weeks residency in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Whitewall Art Projects
2017 Two weeks in the Police Point Artist in Residence Program, Portsea, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Returned for three weeks in 2019.
2017 One-month artist residency at the Arteles Creative Centre, Hämeenkyrö, Finland
2016 The Back to Back Theatre Portraits: Collaboration with Back to Back Theatre, painting portraits of the ensemble actors and the artistic director. Exhibited at Metropolis Gallery for Geelong Art After Dark.


Training and Education

Steve Salo showed a natural talent for painting at a young age, getting his first oil paints at the age of eight. Studying books about the master painters and experimenting in many mediums and across various subject matter, he is largely self-taught.
2017, 2018 Life drawing with Yvonne Audette
2008, 2009 Masterclass in oils with John Wilson
1990 Art & Design — Gordon Institute of TAFE, Geelong, Vic
1989 Geelong Fine Art School with Robert Drummond


Recent Media / Publications

Art Edit ‘Ones to Watch’, Summer 2020-21
Featured in articles about the Saatchi Art Online Studios, 2020
Radio interviews with Chris Bryan on KickArts, 94.7 The Pulse, 26 November 2019, 28 May 2018
Jon Järvineimi, ‘Embassy exhibition: Thank you Steve Salo’, Embassy of Finland in Australia blog, 24 May 2018
Tamara McDonald, ‘Artist’s life in the frame’, Geelong Advertiser, 12 May 2018
Helen Musa, ‘Evocative Finnish landscape inspires art’, Canberra CityNews, 27 November 2017
Melissa Walsh, ‘Salo’s work comes to Frankston’, Peninsula Essence, October 2017
Liz Rogers, ‘Back to Back at the Curved Wall’, Mornington Peninsula Magazine, October 2017
Alana Mitchelson, ‘Power of presence shines through the dark’, Geelong Indy, 17 March 2016
Paintings featured online in Saatchi Collections and on ‘Artwork of the Day’ on artdoxa.com homepage
Works shared worldwide on social media and blogs, profiles on Empty Kingdom, Artists Inspire Artists, theVanderbild, Coudal, The Road Gallery, PICDIT, Weekend Notes and Proteus Mag
Artworks featured in Vine Leaves Literary Journal, July 2015 and Best of Vine Leaves 2015
‘Passerby by Steve Salo’, artingeelong.com, 18 March 2015
Featured Artist on artistaday.com, 11 Feb 2015
Julia Millard, ‘Friday on his Mind’, Geelong Review, 4 Sept 2014
Noel Murphy, ‘Face value’, GC Geelong Coast, Autumn 2014 (four-page profile)
‘A Passion Rekindled’, Geelong Advertiser, 1 March 2014
‘Portraits of Artists by Steve Salo’ — artingeelong.com, 9 Feb 2014
Featured Artist on the Australian Artists United website, 28 Dec 2013
‘Thompson in Print and Paint’, Torquay Times, 2012


Profile photograph by Reg Ryan