Paul Insect

Paul Insect’s clean yet chaotic work poses an enduring and existential question: who are we and how much of ourselves do we choose to reveal? 

Insect’s slick and lively mixed-media works demonstrate the desire to reveal and to hide. The high-profile, reclusive artist, who has sold for upwards of $50,000 at Sotheby’s, is part of an illustrious street art clan alongside the notorious and ever-illusive, Banksy. Insect’s bracing paintings are a collision of colour, line and enshrouded faces with clear references to Dada, Pop Art and graffiti. Anonymous eyes, lips and noses are buried behind swabs of bright primary colours and bold patterns collaged and painted onto a single canvas.

 

Select Achievements
  • Collaboration with Bast in the Shangri-La field at Glastonbury Festival, 2017
  • Group show, DISMALAND, curated by Banksy, Weston-Super-Mare, 2015
  • Solo show, 2033, at Allouche gallery, New York, 2014
  • Solo show, Out of Chaos, at Opera Gallery, New York, 2012
  • Unicorn sold for $50,191 USD at Sotheby’s, London, 2007
  • Damien Hirst purchased Insect’s entire show Bullion before its public opening, 2007
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However, behind the energetic compositions and colour palette, a deeper and more pernicious sentiment is veiled: semi-masked expressions unsure as to whether they are trapped inside the confines of the canvas through force or consent.

Insect’s slick and lively mixed-media works demonstrate the desire to reveal and to hide. The high-profile, reclusive artist, who has sold for upwards of $50,000 at Sotheby’s, is part of an illustrious street art clan led by the notorious and ever-illusive, Banksy. Insect’s bracing paintings are a collision of colour, line and enshrouded faces with clear references to Dada, Pop Art and graffiti. Anonymous eyes, lips and noses are buried behind swabs of bright primary colours and bold patterns collaged and painted onto a single canvas.

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

However, behind the energetic compositions and colour palette, a deeper and more pernicious sentiment is veiled: semi-masked expressions unsure as to whether they are trapped inside the confines of the canvas through force or consent.

Everything is personified in Insect’s work. Matchsticks, liquor, xylophones, pineapples and grapes all have bulging, golf-ball eyes that pop and wobble while they dance, sing and perform everyday activities. In addition to his 2D works, his eclectic collection of puppets are part of the artist’s ongoing collaboration with New York street artist, Bast. Inverting the covered anonymous faces of Insect’s paintings, the duo’s bright, low-fi satire riffs off eminent societal archetypes: the cop, the robber, the pop star, the rapper, the disenfranchised youth. At Banksy’s acclaimed and critically controversial Dismaland in 2015, Insect and Bast’s Fly Tip Theatre was exhibited.

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The work, made entirely out of objects found in Hackney skips, consisted of four puppets that the audience was able to control from a bar above. With dubstep playing in plain daylight as the puppets jolted and thrusted their gangly limbs — comic timing all too familiar to the has-been partygoers and jaded ravers — Insect and Bast presented a culturally nuanced satire executed with immaculate wit and vision: “As long as the work [me and Bast] make makes us laugh, then we’re happy with it.”

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