Monday, July 28, 2008

Art Space Talk: Anthony Lister

Anthony Lister takes the edgiest elements of contemporary pop culture and marries them with unstructured representations of his urban environment to create artworks which are surreal in their imagery but strangely familiar in terms of their thematic base.

Brian Sherwin: Anthony, I read that you apprenticed under Max Gimblett. Can you tell us about that experience? Who else have you studied under?

Anthony Lister: When I was in university I met Max while writing interviews for a local paper. He then invited me to work with him in New York. It was great, and at times, stressful experience. I have studied under a few great artists, but the most of what I have learned has been from watching those that are unaware of my presence.

BS: You create both street and studio works. I've interviewed a few artists who create street art. They often mention that they feel "boxed in" when in the studio and when displaying art in a gallery. Have you experienced that as well… or do you just view it as two practices that allow you to explore your artistic direction under different sets of rules? Are there any rules?

AL: The latter for sure. I don’t confuse myself with trying to create consistent bodies of work both in the studio and on the street. The street work is very spontaneous and loose, I have few expectations with its outcome. The studio is a completely different story, that is where I am aware of the paths I have created in the past and am aware of the paths I want to take in the future. The two practices are almost opposite (in principal) to each other.

BS: So which do you enjoy over the other? Can you explain how your attitude shifts between the two? In other words, are you in a different state of mind when working on the street compared to working in a studio?

AL: They are both enjoyable approaches to making imagery. Even though they are different states of mind.

BS: Anthony, one could say that you are in a unique position in that your work is widely accepted by both the mainstream and underground art community. If you think about it… only a few artists have been able to walk the line between the two. Did you set out with that goal in mind?

AL: The only goal I set out with in the beginning was to be lucky enough to be in a position to make paintings and sculptures for the rest of my life. I consider the street work as a hobby and my studio work as the real deal. It is great that people enjoy both, I do too.

BS: Would you say that you seek to deconstruct the myths of popular culture? In your opinion, do you think that people, in general, want those media created myths to be exposed? Perhaps that is why people from so many backgrounds have embraced your work? What are your thoughts on this?

AL: Popular culture isn’t a myth, it is culture, it is spirituality, it is our heritage. The beauty of media is its ability to expose freedom of speech, or the lack of it. I’d like yo think that the embracing of my work in the world has a lot to do with the ambiguous nature of the conceptual keys and the images aesthetic qualities.

BS: You have openly said that you are not trying to make a statement with your work and that your work simply reflects the world around you. However, it is obvious that some statements are projected from your work upon viewing. Would you say that you leave your work open, philosophically speaking, so that people can draw their own statements from what they have observed?

AL: Maybe.

BS: Anthony, I rarely ask about family during interviews. However, I must say that I'm interested in how your family influences your work. By all accounts you are a wonderful father in that you don't allow your work to block your family relations. You have even included your family within the context of your art. For example, your wife and children have been featured in your Meet the Lister's stickers and you have stated that watching what your children watch on TV has had an impact on your work. With that said, how do you find balance between family and your art? Would you go as far as to say that your family is part of your artistic practice? Would your work be… different… if they were not in your life?

AL: I don’t know. I can’t imagine a life without them.

BS: Anthony, it has been speculated that you draw some influence from the Christian Rock genre. That has been stated on a few websites. Is there a religious or spiritual side to your work? Or is that aspect of your work private?

AL: I just read that myself on the internet. I think its hilarious. No its not true, but I wish it was.

BS: What about other influences? For example, are you influenced by any specific artists from the past? Any peers? For example, when you visit a gallery or museum what kind of art do you tend to focus on viewing?

AL: Rodin makes me cry, Picasso makes me smile, the Chapman brothers make me laugh out loud, Egon Schiele makes me shake my head with admiration, Bacon makes me jump and so on and so forth. But really- my most enlightened artistic experiences are with my children when I see their works on paper.

BS: Finally, can you tell us about some of your recent projects? What are you working on at this time?

AL: I have been working on sculptures in preparation for upcoming shows in London, Melbourne and Miami. The works themselves are figurative. I am in love with the human form still. I’m also working on a play with my daughter about a whale and a tiger.

You can learn more about Anthony Lister by visiting his website-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen about children's drawing so much economy and power of line and symbol making. I still have a lot of my own children's drawings for inspiration.