Time travelling through carvings in concrete, pushing shapes with the nib of a pen, interpreting the drunken ramblings of Francis Bacon, Anthony Lister's painterly world is playful, provocative and puzzling.
Born in 1979, Anthony Lister is already described as "Australia's best contemporary artist". In addition to a strong background in street art he employs a sophisticated painterly style. High and low culture clash too in the content of his paintings, drawings and installations – boorish superheroes, flirtatious ballet dancers, bad-tempered old masters and imperious vamps raucously coexist at the party rapidly deteriorating inside Anthony Lister's head.
Unslung Heroes, a major solo exhibition by Anthony Lister, occurred at both the London and Newcastle Outsiders galleries at the end of 2012. The widely acclaimed double gallery exhibition featured Impressionist portraits of after-party revellers, dominated by a bold red, black and white colour palette.
What started at his grandma's house as a style meant to keep him busy in the latter stages of his life has developed into provocative public declarations of a deep and disconnected struggle with the ordered reality we exist in. Using precise shading, simple colour schemes and somewhat chaotic line work, Lister's work is both powerful and beautiful, masterfully opening up various avenues of interpretation, leaving nothing certain.
Using charcoal, acrylic, spray paint and oils, the canvases depict intoxicated products of Lister's misguiding superheroes in a sophisticated form. By employing the rare grey shades of neutral buffing paste used to delete graffiti by local authorities, Anthony moves away from traditional still life and challenges the way we interpret art as well as the way we see people. He's interested in problem creation not solution and believes options to be limiting.
To us he may be a painter, a public interventionist or a graffiti artist but to himself, he is an atom, shaking in the streets, trying to make sense of a world he is not sure how to grow old in. "Things are all just shapes, we are all just channels", says Lister.