Barcoded coffins on billboards, bearded religious figures smoking straights, and babies with heads full of circuit boards, just a standard page in Paul Insect’s sketchbook.
Paul Insect’s images are provoking and prodigious, dripping as much with sensitivity and gravitas as they are with sex and death. His refined interpretations of visceral subject matter depict the frustrations of a modern man, teeming with unkempt aggression and sexuality, but yearning for a higher moral purpose.
In his London show Poison, Insect replaced Victorian graphics with Dadaist collages and tempered them with a joyous use of colour. He toys with themes of adolescence, aggression, and primitive pornography through a variety of mediums to create visually disarming pieces.
Dark content matter is disguised under a cheery flourish of paint. Angels clutching syringes, dolled-up skeletal playboy bunnies and bishops dressed as clowns all challenge what is commonly accepted whilst playfully mocking the state of contemporary culture.
The 2007 show Bullion, which previewed at The Outsiders London, takes its name from the title piece; half a ton of golden bullion bars. Look closely at the commodity and you will find several dental imprints, markings that allude to our culture of lust and greed. Equally, the screen prints Untitled 6 and Dunce Boy are saturated by violence and aggression.
Triptease Revue, which exhibited at Venice’s Post No Bills Gallery, was another celebration of Insect’s ideas and ability. Rare musical sheets submerged under illustrations, masked voyeurs with wandering eyes and a peep show box broadcasting a montage of artistic and pornographic content, just a few of the pieces on display. Insect mixes bright colours with arresting imagery to project a world bound by helplessness but clutching at fragile straws of hope.
Insect has painted alongside Banksy at The Can Festival, produced album art for DJ Shadow and has worked on the separation wall in Palestine. His work can be spotted everywhere from the streets of London to LA or Stockholm to Sydney and he’s held in high regard by Damien Hirst.