The junction between watercolors and pixel art, a medium fertilized by fascination with the simpler display tech of the 80’s, perfectly demonstrates the power of nostalgia in Elucidation, Adam Lister’s new show at White Walls in San Francisco. Lister depicts the familiar visages of Magritte’s The Son of Man and Superman, BB-8 and Bob Ross, Hokusai’s The Great Wave and Tetris, in geometric abstractions familiar to those who have seen his interpretations of Breaking Bad and Vincent van Gogh. “I’m curious about the deciphering and translation of visual language, and the way we read and understand the things that we see,” Lister tells The Creators Project.
Watercolors, pixels, famous paintings and iconic characters—every element of Lister’s work evokes early memories of creating or consuming culture. “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.”
Lister also includes two 3D-printed sculptures in the exhibit, emblems of the future in a shrine to the past. While they don’t exactly pass as Hot Wheels or tinker toys, the chunky forms seem at home among Lister’s 2D portals back in time, perhaps because they, too, are bound to become a generation’s object of nostalgia. “I called the show Elucidation, because I felt like that sums up my mental and technical process in one word,” he says. “The definition of elucidation is, ‘an explanation that makes something clear, clarification.'”
What Lister makes clear is that nostalgia has always been a powerful force, connecting just like 80’s and 90’s kids love of Tetris, previous generations attachment to Magritte or Cézanne, and tomorrow’s youth whose toys won’t look too different from the 3D-printed pigeon roosting at White Walls this month.
Elucidation runs through October 3, 2015, featuring 33 of Lister’s new works. Check out our favorites below.