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Anthony Lister

“Between Crackdowns”

14 July 2006   6:00pm -  8:00pm

“Between Crackdowns” is Anthony Lister’s third solo show with Schubert Contemporary.  Visually and philosophically provocative, these new works continue his documentation of the human condition within contemporary culture - a culture perpetually distracted and seduced by signs and images designed to persuade, entertain and inform, but mostly, to sell.  With an interest which is at once detached and absorbed, he observes a world increasingly inured, insulated and estranged from reality.  “Television is now the temple, computer games the higher law.” declares the young Brisbane artist.

All lumpish and vague, the characters which populate these canvases are the victims of rampant consumerism and the social disparity it engenders - their eyes roll heaven-ward in fleeting moments of lucidity. What follows can be rage, resignation or a recapitulation  back to some form of escapism. As Briony Downes has noted: ‘Lister’s loosely constructed narratives lift the rusty lid on life to expose its fantastical grit.’

Coupling spontaneity and deliberation, Anthony Lister takes control of pictorial space with a remarkable confidence. He deftly dismantles ideas of how a work of art should function, challenging the viewer to discover meaning in unfamiliar territory. Lister’s sensitivity to linear and compositional opportunities is overt. Tensions between figuration and abstraction are compressed by large areas of monochromatic colour. From beneath these vacant expanses, the rudimentary expressions of other times and other experiences emerge fitfully, like over-painted street graffiti.  In explaining the curiously unfinished quality to much his work, Lister shrugs:  “It says more than perfectly resolved images. I like to leave puzzles behind, like dislocated thoughts.”

While this disruption of narrative and the sheer aesthetic potency of the imagery animates our visual sensibilities, the multi-layered meanings reiterate his earlier stance: “You can call it art, you could also call it sport or religion. I am not trying to change the world ... I am just reacting to a world  that is trying to change me.”  Despite the often sardonic nature of Anthony Lister’s social commentary, “Between Crackdowns” also proffers the possibility of a personal reclamation through humour and self-invention.  “After all” states Lister, “imagination is the only weapon in the war for a purposeful reality.”                  

At just twenty-six years old, Anthony Lister is a prodigious talent. Since graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Griffith University, Brisbane in 2001, he has exhibited prolifically in Australia and overseas.  In 2005 his work was the subject of five solo exhibitions including “Wrapped Meat Lyric” at Lyonweir Gallery in New York and an installation in Via Trinita, Studio 14, Rome.  He travels regularly and last year also accepted a research residency in Berlin.  Lister has been a finalist in numerous awards including: the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship, Sydney; the Metro 5 Art Award, Melbourne 2005 and 2004; the MCA¹s Spirit of Youth Award, Sydney 2005; the Prometheus Art Award, Gold Coast 2005; the Churchie Art Award, Brisbane 2004 and the Theiss Art Prize, Brisbane. In 2002 Lister undertook  a mentorship with New Zealand painter, Max Gimblett in his New York Studio.      

 JACQUELINE HOUGHTON

 

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