Dark Cartooning

Anthony Lister, a Brisbane-based artist, makes his UK debut at London’s Spectrum Gallery next week. His show, Saturday Morning Prime Time, aligns the seemingly innocent world of children’s cartoons with that of power-hungry corporations vying for the attention of younger audiences.

Anthony Lister

Anthony Lister, a Brisbane-based artist, makes his UK debut at London’s Spectrum Gallery next week. His show, Saturday Morning Prime Time, aligns the seemingly innocent world of children’s cartoons with that of power-hungry corporations vying for the attention of younger audiences.

A socially-committed artist, Lister’s subject matter has ranged from drug addiction to poverty and the welfare state. In 2000 Brisbane council encouraged a range of artists to decorate the electrical switchboxes in the city – Lister chose to add flowers, clowns and street scenes across the cityscape.

The new work showing at Spectrum dissects the way in which any experience of childhood is, these days, invaded by the adult world via an unrelenting media stream. Casual exposure to overt sexual expression, for example, is all too often shown under the guise of “reality TV”.

Anthony Lister
Anthony Lister

The characters in these playful TV realities, according to Lister, have ultimately become disturbing role models for pre-teen youth. And the Saturday morning has become a battleground where parents fight for control of their children against the encroaching power of the media, baying for control of an ever-younger audience.

In his redrawing of familiar cartoon characters Lister’s bastardised versions are depicted amid the grey, anonymous hues of mass market consumerism and, in his Saturday Morning Prime Time painting, with pornography (see detail, top, and main picture, below). A closer look at the image reveals just where his assortment of cartoon offspring – and with them the gaze of the TV audience – appear to be heading.

Anthony Lister
Anthony Lister
Anthony Lister

The Spectrum Gallery show runs from 10 November to 2 December.

Images shown, from top:
Saturday Morning Prime Time (detail)
Prime Time Dynasty 4
Prime Time Dynasty 5
Prime Time Dynasty 2
Prime Time Dynasty 3
Saturday Morning Prime Time

All images © Anthony Lister.

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