|May 26, 2011 | ART||Posted by James Watkins|
The year is beyond 2000: Two Thousand and Eleven. The ever expanding digital juggernaut continues its meteoric rise to power. Its loyal and brainwashed subjects collapse, sedated on their couches. With vague eyes they absorb the media’s interpretation of ancient conflicts. What’s left of their expression is pacified and paralysed by Facebook, Youporn and shit romantic-comedies whilst they pollute the landscape of their minds with parasitic magazines, Dan Brown and iphone apps telling them that 18 year old Misty Maze is horny, lonely and within 15 minutes of where they live.
The once-esteemed and romantic position of the world’s finest artists lies dilapidated, seemingly in ruins – a forgotten relic displaced by the insatiable need for instant gratification that has insidiously permeated the masses via some sort of Orwellian, subliminal programming. Their cropped attention-spans struggle to catch their breathe after another day exposed to the rigmarole of the outside world and they are reluctant to absorb anything with any depth. It actually pains them to think, choosing instead to float effortlessly in the tepid, ignorant waters of bliss.
For hundreds of years, world class painters were international superstars, they were our social elite, lauded by the masses, elevated and celebrated on pedestals, and deservedly so. Anthony Lister is of the same pedigree, and people should know Anthony Lister’s name. Spreading his wings in the early 2000′s from Brisbane to live in NYC and travel the world exhibiting his art, he is one of Australia’s most successful contemporary artists. With an already distinguished career in his early 30′s, he has opened solo exhibitions in a raft of the worlds art capitals, been published in scores of hip publications worth name dropping and has been awarded some pretty serious accolades by people who know a lot about art.
His paintings satirise our culture and seek to expose the foibles of modern living. “I am not trying to change the world… I am just reacting to a world that is trying to change me”. They evoke obscure feelings and are indiscriminately playful whilst retaining a strong sense of painting as a studied craft. They’re like the the finger paintings a child-savant-artist Edward Scissorhands might have enthusiastically brought up to his primary school teacher as a genuine apologetic gesture after accidentally dissecting the classes pet rat.
His works are visually progressive; half an hour on his website reveals a fascinating development of works and styles over the last five years. He is an artist who feels liberated, free to express himself like a musician who is on the way to mastering their instrument or a ballet dancer in full control of their movements. He understands that there is ‘no sharper point, than that of infinity’ (don’t mind us whilst we quote 19thC French poetic prose) and in parallel with his studio paintings, also involves himself with printmaking, etching, street art, installation art, film-making and music.
Blazing a trail of construction around the world whilst garnering genuine celebrity status in esteemed art circles has lead a lot of artists into a whirlpool of reckless abandon and self-destruction. Lister though, maintains a young, beautiful family. A fact that speaks inescapable volumes for him as a person, artist or not. Often involving his kids in his art, photography,videos and travelling with them around the world, what more could a child ask from a childhood than a consistent family life, fused with a range of international experiences?
The ever-present cogs of inspiration and influence continue to turn; whilst live videos of Lister evoke Picasso’esque notions, you don’t have to look hard through art-circles around the world and Australia to see shades of Lister already being channelled and filtered back into the shared maelstrom of creation. And perhaps as relevant a reference to any contemporary artist these days is a google image search - ‘Anthony Lister’ results in countless examples of his imagery on numerous art blogs/online magazines and is much celebrated amongst his peers.
Watching television interviews and time-lapse videos of Anthony Lister paint reveal a sensitive and intelligent young man who works freely, improvising with both spray cans and brushes; an artist who doesn’t think twice about a drastic change of direction on a whim and has no reservations about painting over previous ideas to move forward. This visual evidence aligned with quote from a video interview: ”the paintings themselves I try to do with the zest of the energy that comes initially in the first marks, so I try not to linger on completing a work” reveals an artist pushing his limits at both ends of the spectrum.
“When I make a mistake on one (painting) I need to make a mistake on the other in order to correct both of them, so it’s a puzzle and a problem-solving exercise. Each piece has an energy of its own and can live on its own; I hang them together, because I make them together…..The aesthetic is probably secondary to how I want to feel when I’m making my work. It won’t leave my studio unless I feel happy with it and that’s the delightful part, when you fall in love with something you can’t part with it but you do ’cause you make something new. I move on through work, once I’ve made something I fall in love with it, and then I make something better”.
Lastly, tame sex videos and painful reality television aside, when 14379 people have watched a youtube video of Paris Hilton saying your art book is “hot”, you have – if nothing else – left a mark on the world.