Paul Insect

High-saturation musings on freedom and identity from a faceless art world maverick.

Paul Insect (he/him), also known as PINS, was born in 1971 in the south east of England. He now lives and works in London.

Collaborations

The artist has collaborated with street art stablemates Banksy and Bast, produced album art for DJ Shadow and received commissions from festivals including Glastonbury and The Lost Horizon.

Did you know?

In 2007, Damien Hirst bought the entirety of Bullion, Insect's solo show at London’s Lazarides Gallery, before it even opened.

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Collaborations with this artist

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Practice overview

Paul Insect questions identity, both who we are and who we choose to be. His mixed-media works meld portraiture and abstraction with paint, print, collage and sculpture. Figures wear balaclava-like masks surrounded by energetic brushstrokes and bold graphic shapes. The compositions evoke Dada and Pop Art, and make clear nods to Insect’s roots as a graffiti artist. But behind the fun and playful facade is a more pernicious sentiment – the people are trapped inside the canvas, questioning themes of individual freedom and choice.

In his work, Insect critiques digital identity. Much like an Instagram feed, the figures gaze directly at the viewer – their sense of self bound to the approval of others. Also, the masks they wear both reveal and hide their faces, just as we choose what to share and hide online. This is echoed in Insect’s choice to keep his face and personal identity secret. As such, he blends our projected identities and lived identities – suggesting they are becoming ever-more difficult to separate.

“There are two sides to people: the side you want everyone to see, and the side you would rather keep to yourself.” Paul Insect