Shining a light on Salvatore Zofrea’s remarkable career

Salvatore Zofrea

The Clayton Utz Art Partnership, in collaboration with 3:33 Art Projects, is dedicated to showcasing the work of outstanding Australian artists – introducing visual arts to new audiences, while giving artists a platform to share their stories.


3:33 Art Projects has curated shows for some of Australia’s most celebrated artists including John Olsen, Chris O’Doherty (aka Reg Mombassa), Ken Done and the artist featured here – Salvatore Zofrea.


‘Magpie and Morning Star’ (2008). Image: supplied.


Decades of dedication to the arts

Painter and printmaker Salvatore Zofrea was born in Italy, arriving in Australia in 1956 at the age of nine. After leaving school and working for several years, he attended the Julian

Ashton Art School and over the past 40 years, has held solo exhibitions throughout Australia and internationally in Rome. His work has also been featured in group exhibitions at the National Gallery of Australia and the Art Gallery of NSW.

Zofrea’s large commissioned works include his ‘150 Years of the Sydney Morning Herald’ mural (1979), the State Bank of New South Wales mural (1985) and a fresco for theSydney Opera House Trust (1993). 

In 1979, Zofrea’s ‘Psalm23’ was acquired by the Vatican, Rome, for its collection. In 1982, he received a Power Bequest award of sixth months’ residence in Paris, and a Churchill Fellowship in 1986 to study fresco technique in Florence with the master of fresco restoration, Leonetto Tintori.

Zofrea has won the Sulman Prize three times and is a many-times finalist in the Archibald and Wynne prizes. In 1992 the late Art Gallery of NSW director, Edmund Capon, arranged for a selection of Zofrea’s ‘Psalms’ series to be displayed in the Art Gallery of NSW and to tour NSW regional art galleries. 

In 1996 he was made a cavaliere (knight) by the Italian Government for services to the arts, and from 1994 to 1999 he created the ‘Appassionata’ series of 100 autobiographical woodcuts, exhibited at the Art Gallery of NSW, and touring nationally prior to being acquired by the Gallery.

In 2000, the National Portrait Gallery of Australia exhibited his ‘50 Portraits’ which then toured NSW regional galleries. In 2014, Zofrea was awarded an Order of Australia (OAM) for services to the arts.

Seven monographs on his life and work have been produced and four films, including Richard Mordaunt’s ‘Salvatore Zofrea – Master of Light’ (2016).


‘Tea Tree with Bronze Pigeon’ (2007-2008).


Current work and exhibition at Clayton Utz

This remarkable exhibition is a celebration of over 20 years of printmaking and comprises 40 woodcut prints of Australian fauna and flora. This particular set has been painted by the artist using precious lapis lazuli pigment.

The show, which runs from November 2023 until March 2024, includes Zofrea’s ‘Four Circles’ series, depicting Australian wildflowers in their natural light at various times of the day – morning, midday, afternoon and evening. Each circle consists of 25 panels, each one being 153cm high x 122cm wide, totalling 30 metres in overall length. 

“I was inspired to create this series of images by becoming aware of the abundance of beauty in the flora and fauna around us. I have become very conscious of the variety, subtlety and grandeur of each form of life; and I hope that viewers will respond to these images in the same way,” says Salvatore.

Salvatore Zofrea is represented by Australian Galleries, Sydney and Melbourne.


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