Anthony Lister uses comic book imagery for his own means, redirecting popular culture for personal expression. Heroes and villains are taken out of the panel and placed in a new space, devoid of the usual storyline, dialogue and scenery. His paintings are not controlled by cartoon context; rather, the figures in these portraits are reinvented through the artist’s hand. His mixed media technique, involving layers of ink, spray and brushwork, allows his paintings to simultaneously have soft, ethereality and a garish, raw energy. Through this use of iconic and familiar characters, Lister creates instantly memorable compositions.
The portraits touch upon the idea of identity in relation to anonymity. Super heroes always have secret identities and lead double lives as their public and private selves. This is not unlike street artists, who achieve fame through an alias but often are unable to take credit using their real names. It is a strange balance of fame and obscurity. These characters and their popularity also expose our culture’s tendency towards oversimplification, avoiding gray areas and evaluating in terms of extremes: good or evil, hero or villain.
Lister graduated from Queensland College of Art in 2001, shortly after he went to New York and worked under the mentorship of New Zealand painter Max Gimblett. Recently, he undertook a research residency in Berlin, and his travels have extended him to take part in solo and group exhibitions around the world. Lister is consistently a finalist in a number of prestigious awards including The Prometheus Art Award and the Metro 5 Art Award. He has been asked to give several lectures, the most recent of which was at Semi-Permanent 2008 in Sydney. Anthony Lister currently lives and paints in New York City.