Anthony Lister: The Enigmatic Artist

Anthony Lister is a globally recognized Australian artist that enjoys pushing boundaries. That quality within him I find both fascinating and frightening at the same time. I say this as I enjoy his offbeat personality and frank nature. He would be the first person to tell you off and yet has the dichotomy of being extremely kind. I often watch his Instagram stories and they send my head into a tizzy trying to understand more about his true self. Like I said, I enjoy being around him, find him extremely talented in many mediums, and also stay an arm’s length away just in case he decides to tell me off. I must say I was more than pleased with our interview below. Anthony gave me straight forward answers and insight into his process with great ease.

Lister Studio by Yasmin Suteja

Not Chillin Not Okay

It was wonderful meeting you at your solo show at Allouche Gallery in New York City. Your paintings depict many identifiable figures within our art community. What drives you when choosing your subject matter?

Something about me that does not even want me to make a painting often drives me to create. Many times I will think I am making a painting about one thing or one person can suddenly surprise me to discover that the piece is actually forcing me into a different direction. For example when I started the portrait that became the painting of Ricky Powell I had actually intended that to be a figure of a homeless man dressed as a king in a fancy crown. The painting of Harif Guzman actually began with the intention for it to be a more politically charged pseudo terrorism propaganda figure of hypochondriac-like doom. The painting of Al Diaz and Mary Pole on the other hand began from a sketch of them sitting with Danny Minnick (watching Downtown 81 ironically) and finished that way. I am aware that I have the power to choose my subjects although at times it feels almost as if my subject chooses to be painted by force of my hand.

The Break Up

Gucci And The Paper Hat

Carrot Nose


Is it true you created the pieces shown within such a short time period? The gallery is rather large and you had many pieces in the show so normally I would have assumed it took months to create the body of work on display.

The exact time that it took me to create all the works in the show was quite short in comparison to other shows I have built. It wasn’t so much a matter of time or pressure that the work came out so quickly, it was more a matter of fact that the pieces were complete when they were done. The show felt whole and complete and almost felt effortless to conceive.

I truly appreciate that you incorporate many mediums into each piece. Do you have any favorites such as spray, charcoal or ink? Are you intimidated by any mediums that you want to experiment with?

There is a moment when you can either choose to either list exactly what you used in the creation of an artwork or simply list just a few or even simpler list an ambiguous medium. For this body of work I chose to be specific. Occasionally I will do this for a number of reasons, the main reason being that of my own fascination in being the detective when it comes to deciphering how a painting was created. I use many mediums in an order which is archival and I fear none.

I personally remember your work from years ago as seeing both portraits and just your name sprayed on the streets of Brooklyn. I love how you distort certain features in your subject matter and find your work completely unique. When did you find your voice within the art community and how long did it take to become so well known as “Lister?”

For as long as I have made work I have attempted to make work like none I have seen before. It is only recently that I have begun conversations in my work with other artists from the past like Pablo Picasso and even Damien Hirst. I’m not sure exactly when I so called became well known but I have always been known as Lister because it is simply my name.

Is there something you can tell me that you have not told another journalist with regards to your artwork?

Interesting question. Is there a question you can ask me that I haven’t been asked by any other journalist about my work? If so then you will find your answer.

* I did in fact have a discussion with Anthony after reading this well thought out response, yet I preferred to keep it among ourselves.

In what cities do you feel your work is most appreciated- both on the streets and in Galleries? I can only imagine how many pieces are on the streets of Australia and am jealous I cannot see them in person!

Being appreciated and being respected are very different things to being prolific or being well known. I would decipher the meaning of being appreciated by that meaning my work stays alive after I’ve left it for some time and that the work isn’t destroyed by other painters or by the councils of the cities in which I created it on the street that is of course. So sorry I really can’t say because I actually do not know. I have been many places but not even half of the number of places I wish to see in my time on earth.

What is next for you Anthony? Are there upcoming shows or outdoor events for you in the near future?

Yes I’m busy creating work for a show in Miami and there was also Miami Basel where my work was shown in some fairs. I have plans for China, I have plans for Japan. A show in America, a show in Australia in 2019. I’ve just had a print come out and in Paris with ‘print them all’ press and planning a secret show in Paris, I just had a show in Berlin. Yes I’m busy. I love what I do and I love my life it is a great life and I love my kids… it’s great.

Where is the best place our readers can learn more about you and your artwork?

Google search- Anthony Lister
YouTube search- Anthony Lister
Find the film- Have you seen the Listers?


Author’s Note: Since the release of the movie on Netflix, there had been so much buzz about it all over the globe that I watched it the day after.  I had always been a fan of Anthony’s work, yet to see this super soft, honest and vulnerable side of him made me like him even more. I had not been privy to his personal life before the movie and gained much more insight into his world that I hope there is another movie following up on the interpersonal relationships he has with his children. I have always found him to be likable and the movie brought light to him being a loving Father.

Additional Lister Studio Images by Yasmin Suteja


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