50 of Australia's Most Collectable Artists: Anthony Lister - Art Collector

Issue 51, January - March 2010

This profile appeared in the "50 of Australia's Most Collectable Artists 2010" feature, part of the annual special issue "50 Things Collectors Need to Know 2010"

Comics aren’t what they used to be. Once scorned as adolescent time wasters, recent years have seen what are now termed graphic novels into the stuff of serious cultural discourse. Such cutting-edge authors as Jack O’Connell, Jonathan Lethem and Michael Chabon use comics as integral parts of their plots while Alan Moore’s now famous comic saga Watchmen made it onto Time magazine’s 100 best novels.

If comic-book heroes are part of the zeitgeist then Anthony Lister is on the money. For several years now he has been distorting and manipulating a variety of caped crusaders, often with cruel intent. Hovering somewhere between hip street cred and calculated commercialism, Lister renders his heroes with harsh, scratchy line-work – part Roy Lichtenstein, part Ralph Steadman and part comics legend Jack Kirby.

The Brisbane-born Lister recently relocated to Brooklyn, a move which appears to have paid off richly. In 2009 he was included in a group show at Opera Gallery in New York alongside such well-established luminaries as Banksy and Blek Le Rat.

“Jesus may as well be Superman, God is better understood as The Force, and the Devil is more easily recognised within the actions of our politicians and global corporate entities,” Lister says. “These are our contemporary codes of living practice. Our urban mythology is now translated through comic books and television sitcoms. The distinction between good and bad plague our existence in every way yet remain ambiguous in their representation.”

For an artist still in his 20s, Lister has already held solo exhibitions in Los Angeles, London, San Francisco and Como, Italy as well as throughout Australia. With his street-art smarts, Batman, The Joker, Spiderman and Tigra from The Avengers – twisted, distorted and executed with a strange urgency – will never be the same.

Ashley Crawford

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