The Back to Back Theatre Portraits



The Back to Back Theatre Portraits (2016)

In 2016 Steve Salo collaborated with Back to Back Theatre, creating portraits of the ensemble actors and the artistic director.

Back to Back Theatre creates new forms of contemporary theatre imagined from the minds and experiences of a unique ensemble of actors with disability, giving voice to social and political issues that speak to all people. The company is one of Australia’s most globally recognised and respected contemporary theatre companies, touring extensively to major festivals and cultural institutions around the world.

Steve’s updates about the project follow below.


The Back to Back Theatre Portraits at Frankston Arts Centre

19 October – 9 December 2017
FAC Curved Wall Gallery
27-37 Davey St, Frankston
Melbourne, Australia

1 Nov 2016: Frankston Arts Centre have contacted me to exhibit the Back to Back Theatre Portraits in their Curved Wall Gallery, from 19 October to 9 December 2017. Thrilled that many theatre and arts lovers will get to see these works!

24 Sept 2016: After showing in Sydney, the Salon des Refusés exhibition, which includes my painting of Simon Laherty, has travelled to the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery in Melbourne where it can be viewed from 25 September until 22 November.

17 July 2016 (also see News page): Last night’s opening was the most exciting occasion of my painting life. I am honoured to have my painting of Simon Laherty hanging in the Salon des Refusés 2016 at the National Trust S.H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney with the works of many artists I admire. Many thanks to Simon, it’s hard to imagine a person who could engage me more completely in a painting. I actually finished his portrait and declared, “My work as a painter is done”, but of course this wonderful experience has just inspired me to try to find my next sitter.
Steve Salo, Detail from painting of Simon

Detail from Steve Salo’s painting of actor Simon Laherty. Full painting below.

10 June: Thrilled by the news that my painting of Romany Latham has received a Commended Prize in the 2016 Kogarah Art Prize in Sydney, awarded by judge Dr Gene Sherman AM. I’m moving house (and studio) this weekend, so unfortunately missed the opening.
Steve Salo, Detail from painting of Romany

Detail from Steve Salo’s painting of actor Romany Latham. Full painting below.

6 May: What a great night! Previewed the completed portraits of the ensemble actors at Metropolis Gallery for Geelong After Dark. I brought along sketchbooks and photos from the sittings and worked on the painting of artistic director Bruce Gladwin. Thanks to Rob and Ilze at Metropolis and to everyone who called in.
Steve Salo, Geelong After Dark

Preview at Metropolis Gallery for Geelong After Dark, Friday 6 May

Steve Salo, Bruce Gladwin

Steve Salo, ‘The Artistic Director’, oil on canvas, 76 x 101 cm

14 April: Brian, Mark and Romany, a return to the big brush strokes I’m more known for.
Steve Salo, Brian Tilley

Steve Salo, ‘Brian Tilley, Actor, Back to Back Theatre’, oil on glass, 47 x 43 cm

Steve Salo, Mark Deans

Steve Salo, ‘Mark Deans, Actor, Back to Back Theatre’, oil on glass, 80 x 80 cm

Steve Salo, Romany Latham

Steve Salo, ‘Romany Latham, Actor, Back to Back Theatre’, oil on glass, 47 x 40 cm
Commended — 2016 Kogarah Art Prize

24 March: The final sitting, with ensemble member Romany Latham, another painting I can’t wait to get started.
Sketching Romany

Sketching Romany, got so many great photos too.

22 March: I just loved working on the painting of Scott Price, enjoyed tackling a beard like this.
Steve Salo, Scott Price

Steve Salo, ‘Scott Price, Actor, Back to Back Theatre’, oil on canvas, 47 x 43 cm

Steve Salo, Scott

Steve Salo, ‘Scott’, charcoal on paper, 32 x 25 cm

18 March: Story in today’s Geelong Indy, ‘Power of presence shines through the dark’, about the upcoming preview of The Back to Back Portraits at Metropolis Gallery for Geelong After Dark on Friday 6 May.
“I’ve learnt about the amazing creative projection that comes from these people; their sensitivity, fragility at times and their intense focus on their work.”
11 March: Excited about today’s sittings with Brian Tilley and Mark Deans. The painting of Scott Price is almost ready to reveal, he’s looking like a bushranger from the 1800s. It’s such an honour to be painting these actors.

Next week Back to Back Theatre head off to Wellington to present ‘small metal objects’ in the New Zealand Festival, then in May they’ll be in Sau Paulo, Brazil, to present ‘Genesh Versus the Third Reich’ in the Australia Now Festival, then it’s on to Athens to perform ‘small metal objects’ at the Onassis Cultural Centre. Back to Back’s performance and awards history is incredible. They’ve toured the world, yet they’re so humble about their achievements.
Steve Salo, sittings with Brian and Mark

Loved every second of my sittings with Brian Tilley and Mark Deans.

9 March: Painting of Simon Laherty is finished and drying in the studio. Now I’m in Scott-mode, another thrilling ride.
Steve Salo, Simon Laherty painting drying in studio

‘Simon Laherty, Actor, Back to Back Theatre’, oil on canvas, 120 x 160 cm
Finalist Salon des Refusés 2016

Simon with painting

From being mesmerised sketching Simon at Back to Back – to showing him the finished painting in my studio.

21 Feb: Quite a bit of brush mileage on Simon, still many hours to go. Tomorrow I have the sitting with Scott, so I’d better make another coffee and get back to the studio.
Steve Salo, Simon in progress

Simon in progress, week 2

Received good news this week, my first completed painting in this series, ‘Sarah Mainwaring, actor, Back to Back Theatre’, has been shortlisted for the Wyndham Art Prize 2016. The exhibition runs 17 March to 1 May at Wyndham Art Gallery, 177 Watton Street, Werribee. Opening night 16 March.
13 Feb: Working on the portrait of Simon. I’m in the grip of an obsession.
Steve Salo, Simon in progress

Simon, work in progress

Steve Salo, Simon

Steve Salo, ‘Simon’, oil on board, 41 x 35 cm

7 Feb: I’ve been drawing Simon as I contemplate how I’m going to paint him.
Steve Salo, Simon Laherty drawing

Steve Salo, ‘Simon Laherty’, charcoal on Mi-Teintes paper, 40 x 28 cm

4 Feb: I’m so freakin rapt with the sittings I’ve had with Sarah, Bruce (pictured below right) and Simon. They each have an intense and powerful presence. Simon was incredible, he completely drew me in, his face and emotion are a painter’s dream.
Steve Salo, Back to Back Theatre sittings

Enjoying the sittings with the B2B actors and artistic director Bruce Gladwin (pictured right)

24 Jan: The first completed painting in this exciting project is revealed below.
Steve Salo, Sarah Mainwaring

Steve Salo, ‘Sarah Mainwaring, Actor, Back to Back Theatre’, oil on canvas, 47 x 43 cm
Finalist Wyndham Art Prize 2016

Sketching Sarah

The first sitting, loved meeting and sketching Sarah.

In 2016 Steve also worked on landscape paintings for a solo exhibition at Metropolis Gallery in early 2017.
View other recent works and Steve’s 2015 solo show, Passerby.

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