Artist Anthony Lister in his studio, with marker pens
Culture

The controversial life of ‘Australia’s premier street artist’ Anthony Lister

By Bray Boland @BolandBray

Anthony Lister is an Australian Contemporary Artist from Brisbane, boasting collaborations with the likes of Grill’d Burgers, Vogue Australia, Mercedes Benz, Westfield, and Hermes. 

Going by the name: “Lister”, Anthony has made waves around the world with his modern street art techniques and low brow style. As a result, Anthony Lister was coined: “Australia’s premier street artist” in 2017 by Complex AU. 

At a young age Lister was influenced by his grandmother, who was an avid painter and showed him different techniques to help him express himself artistically which birthed what would become his vocation. 

Lister graduated from Queensland School of Art in 2001 before completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in New York, apprenticed under Max Gimblet – an influential New Zealand-born artist.

Since concluding his training, Lister has done countless works in the streets of cities around the world with exhibitions held in Berlin, Miami, Sydney, and Melbourne. 

Ballerina artwork by Anthony Lister. Picture: CC: Yin00007/Wikimedia

No stranger to conflict in the past, Anthony Lister has been known for vandalism when he was sentenced to five hours community service after damaging a series of different properties in the Brisbane City region between 2009 and 2014.

Lister said that it wasn’t his intention to damage the sites in question, but they were a “blessing”.

“It wasn’t in any sort of condition to concern me that my gift wouldn’t be well received,” Lister said about a fire box he painted on. “That’s enough grounds for me as an educated visual artist with a passion for [Brisbane’s] cultural progression to make the educated decision that a beautification blessing needs to take place.”

After being found guilty, Lister handed the Magistrate a portrait he had done through the court process.

Magistrate Cosgrave joked he wasn’t impressed, saying: “I’ve got bigger jowls than that.”

Lister has had similar run-ins like this with the council in the past.

In 2014, the council buffed over one of Lister’s portraits done on a roller door in an alleyway.

“They could’ve pulled off the door, sold it for $10,000. I hate having to say that but it’s the only thing that puts things into context for some of these people.”

Ironically, Lister’s career began in 2000 after the Brisbane Council’s Deputy Mayor offered Anthony a contract to paint the signal boxes in the city.

A panorama of a Lister studio piece that showcases his trademark style. CC: JAMproject/flick

In recent times, the rollercoaster of run-ins with the law continues, as Lister is being charged for a string of Roxy Jacenko-targeted graffiti that was scrawled across the Eastern Suburbs.

He and an accomplice were charged with two counts of “aggravated intentionally marking premises without consent” after being caught on CCTV vandalising Jacenko’s Paddington offices on 24th April 2019.

To make matters worse, Lister is also awaiting trial after being accused of drugging and sexually assaulting five young women between 2015 and 2018, coupled with alleged drug and firearm charges.

Anthony “emphatically denies” the assault charges and plans to defend when he goes back to court.

The arrest has shocked the art community and resulted in some of Lister’s street art being defaced in Katoomba.

Locals of the Katoomba area painted over a piece of Lister’s street art with the words: “Not welcome here” written next to the now-vandalised painting.

An exhibition of Anthony Lister’s has now also been cancelled.

Featured image: Anthony Lister with some of his studio works in the background. CC/BirdmanPhotos/Flickr

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