He came, he tamed, he conquered. Australian street artist Anthony Lister has taken the urban art world by storm with his sophisticated, painterly interpretations of urban grunge imagery. The cosmopolitan confluence of a subversive street aesthetic and high-art draughtsmanship that permeates his extensive oeuvre ensured a seamless transition from the outside to the inside – one of the reasons he has been so successful. His images appear equally as relevant and equally accessible in an up-market gallery as they do on a gritty wall in a back laneway.
Lister is proficient in the use of a wide variety of mediums from pens to stickers to aerosol and is au-fait with a number of different surfaces. Just as varied as the surfaces on which they appear are the subjects of his mainly figurative compositions. Sci-fi superheroes, clown-like characters, and licentious ladies make regular appearances in his diverse oeuvre as do images of quite ordinary looking people.
The characteristics that all his images seem to have in common are an overwhelming yet intriguing sense of irony and a decadent disposition that is most likely a product of his approach to his work. “The first rule of painting is to take everyone else out of the equation. I am the viewer, so I don’t underestimate my viewers. They see everything and I just have to assume that they are me,” he explains. “I can’t paint for anyone else. It’s all about having the courage to say this is finished and they have to know that I am the boss in painting. It’s like being a soldier because I have to be hard as fuck to fall in love with these things and let them go,” Lister continues.
Over the last couple of years Lister has gone from strength to strength with critically acclaimed gallery shows in a number of different countries and internationally renowned murals on walls all over the world. In 2011 he was named one of the 50 most collectable artists by Australian Art Collector magazine and was identified as an “Artist to Watch” by The Art Economist.
Twenty twelve was a big year for Lister. He had his first solo Asian show in December at Hong Kong’s Kumquat gallery and his solo exhibition “Unslung Heroes,” held simultaneously at the London and Newcastle branches of The Outsiders gallery, was a hit. Visitors to the 2012 edition of Art Basel Miami would have been hard pressed avoiding his work thanks to the massive new mural he painted during the fair and his participation in the Basel Castle mini festival – not to mention his paintings can be found on walls throughout the Wynwood district.
In May 2013 Lister will be the subject of a solo show at Miami’s Robert Fontaine Gallery – a month after his painting “Cat Woman” (2008) is due to be auctioned by Doyle New York. The auction record for a work by Lister was set in May 2012 when Australian auction house Lawson Menzies sold his painting “Spider Woman” (2007) for AUD$19,375 (IBP). If his recent popularity is anything to go by, a new auction record may be on the cards. Although the secondary market for his work is still developing, there is no doubt that his collector base is growing.
Is Lister an artist worth watching? Without a doubt. But if you want more proof you might be interested to learn that an Anthony Lister documentary is currently in the works. Titled “Lister,” the film is being produced by SOYA-winning filmmaker Alex Gee. The trailer for the film can be seen below.