Anthony Lister is joining the LTRHDS with the letter M.
Born in Mexico, raised in Brisbane, Lister now lives and works from his New York studio and was recently listed in the Australian Art Collectors Magazine 50 most collectible artists.
Lister work references street art, expressionism, pop art, comics, cartoon and mass media, he has often stated that he is not trying to make a statement with his work but to reflect the world around him.
Interview by David Haggar of Dickerson Gallery
While it is somewhat easy to disregard the way the media affects our everyday lives, it is also very difficult to avoid it altogether. Your artwork continues to draw from cartoons and comics. How does television, the internet and film influence your creative process?
I remember visiting my grandparents as a child and they always had at least one radio and a television on really loud all of the time.
I’m not sure if that had an effect on me but i find myself feeling more comfortable with techno-static around.
In the same sort of peripheral acknowledgment of technology in order to feel comfortable i paint what is around me and a lot of extra influences just pop up along the way.
You paint at a fast pace, so much so that I think most would assume that you arrive at your subjects through an instinctual painting process. However, I have seen many of your sketch books that illustrate how often you draw. Are these books something you have on you all the time – at the ready should ideas come to mind?
Yes and no. more so when i was starting out. i still carry a book with me when i travel and when i am in the studio, but these days i like to draw on whatever is around, like a used envelope or a receipt.
And when preparing for an exhibition do you work from these sketches or smaller studies, marking up a canvas?
Yep just like that.
For years now you have focused on superheroes as the principal subject of your paintings. What drives you to use these iconic figures?
The superheroes allow me to explore ideas of godliness, corruption and pain in a way that is easiest understood for myself and my colleagues.
Many of these characters morph into each other. At times our childhood heroes appear like yesteryear’s wash-ups, ravaged by consumerism and throwaway pop culture. Are they acting out the way you believe modern day society behaves?
And ancient society. I use superman to represent god or a cop and Darth Vader to symbolize the devil or a cop. it is what it is. its always been like this i presume. history repeating itself in a new form. etc.
The use of the diptych has featured heavily in recent shows of yours. These works echo rorschach inkblot tests in their composition. What is it that lures you into this repetition of the figure?
I am interested in the act of problem solving. by painting two pictures in a mirrored composition, outside of it being down right tricky, it allows me to exercise my decision making and deal with my own aesthetic problems i lay out for myself.
Artists often comment on the how their work is shaped by their surroundings. How has the move from Brisbane to the Brooklyn impacted your practice?
Just the fact that i can order food until 5am alone makes a huge difference to my practice.
Several of your early works can still be found throughout the streets of Collingwood and Fitzroy. Aside from private and public commissions, do you get the opportunity to paint in the streets any more?
There are many complexities to consider when trying to find the distinguishing line between art and design. A project like LTRHDS forces both artist and audience to cross that line. How have you responded to being given a ‘brief’, in so much as a single letter as the subject?
Its all a bit of fun really.