After adorning Los Angeles’ urban landscape with numerous murals, Anthony Lister returned to New Image Gallery in West Hollywood to release a series of his new work. Renowned for drawing influences from expressionism, pop art and combining it with bold street art, Lister’s untitled exhibition captivated guests.

Upon entering the show your first question is where are the frames? A majority of the work is hung unframed and unbacked. This initial thought plays directly into Lister’s central theme of defining high and low art. Since Lister paints images of ballerinas, a symbol of sophistication and class, does the absence of frames make it low high art? Or does the use of ballerinas on unframed and unbacked canvases make it high low art? Does a boombox playing classical music to the annotations of Lister’s work scribbled in pencil on the wall bring down the value, or is it intended to make a point?

A subtle nod to Seventh Letter Crew can be found on a large canvas in the back of the gallery. Members of the crew look on as fully dressed ballerinas dance on a stripper stage. It is with this painting the use of ballerinas becomes apparent. As Lister mentioned during the show, “what is the difference between ballerinas and strippers?” Both forms of dance dress provocatively, both move sensually. Yet one is high and one is low. Making one wonder, is exotic dancing low ballet or is a ballerina a classier stripper?

In an ode to Vincent Van Gogh, Lister painted a portrait of the influential artist. Van Gogh is surrounded by sunflowers similar to the ones found in his famous still life series. Right next to the portrait Lister writes “I’d like to think Van Gogh wouldn’t agree with making his work into a label if he had a say in it.” Making you question, what WOULD Van Gogh do if he was an artist in the 21st century?

He graduated with a degree in art, but uses his talents half in galleries-the other half continuing to hit the streets. His use of ballerinas is reminiscent of master Impressionist Edgar Degas, yet his work seems free hand and his models are not perfect like Degas’ proper and poised dancers. Which all together has you wondering, is Lister trying to make low high art or high low art? Regardless, I am anxiously awaiting what he has up his sleeve next.

Lister’s exhibition will be on display at the New Image Gallery in West Hollywood until April 7, 2012.

– story by Keisha Raines with photos by Birdman

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