Adam Lister: Suddenly Familiar

Guy Hepner and the TAX Collection are pleased to present Adam Lister’s solo show: Suddenly Familiar. Lister, known for his pixelated recreations of notable historical works, will be showing a completely new series created in 2018. His art historical references for these pieces span genres and countries, reinterpreting the iconic works of some of the biggest names in art history, from Da Vinci’s Leda and the Swan to Courbet’s Origin of the World and all the way to more recent pieces such as Warhol’s Marilyn.

Marilyn (after Warhol) by Adam Lister

Marilyn (after Warhol) by Adam Lister

Adam Lister’s body of work is continuously expanding but his style remains the same. He breaks down classic images to their most elemental forms and color blocks – making the works appear pixelated or ‘mid-download’. This juxtaposition of the masterpieces with what could be described as a technological vision, is just one of many within Lister’s work. While one usually tends to move closer to a work of art to analyze and see it better, these pieces come together in the viewer’s eye only when they step back from them and allow the blocks of colors to meld together.

Sunflowers Yellow (After Van Gogh) by Adam Lister

Sunflowers Yellow (After Van Gogh) by Adam Lister

When Lister deconstructs a subject he must consider what characteristics to accentuate so the image maintains its integrity. Our brain is trained to expect a certain visual structure from well known imagery, by altering this expectation, he forces the viewer to piece it back together for themselves, resulting in an entirely new interaction.

He further explains this concept by saying “These pictures are like puzzles, carefully taken apart and then pieced back together to reveal the subject. By referencing classical works of art, and nostalgic scenes and objects, I find these works to be transformations of images that have a collective familiarity. These works were inspired by my love for geometric abstraction, color field painting, and old school digital graphics.” 

The Sleepers (after Courbet) by Adam Lister

The Sleepers (after Courbet) by Adam Lister

The vast majority of his works are created using watercolor, which is an interesting choice for these geometrically controlled paintings. His explanation for this is “I choose to work with watercolor because I’m drawn to the hand- made and transparent qualities of the paint itself. I also find the juxtaposition of rigid drawing and soft washes of color to be an interesting combination”. 

Statue of David (after Michelangelo) by Adam Lister

Statue of David (after Michelangelo) by Adam Lister

Mathematics is another very important aspect of Lister’s work; not only was it a key component of classical art such as that of Michelangelo and Da Vinci – who used geometry and arithmetic to recreate perspective and size ratios – but it is also a vital part of Lister’s own process. Lister furthers his connection between the past and present by playing with the way mathematics is used to create forms – by attacking light, perspective, and form with sharp-edged shapes. Lister’s unique shapes are indicative of his willingness to compromise with different eras of thinking in art in order to make them work within his own style. This further exemplifies how his work connects with different generations of artists by re-appropriating traditional mathematical technique and taking on subjects that hold a collective familiarity and reducing them to flat cubist-like compositions. 


The exhibition will be open to the public from October 4th, 2018 at Guy Hepner.