Usually Surrounded

July 15, 2021August 31, 2021


Emerging from the late 90’s Street Art movement as well as active in the underground party and club scene existing at the time in London, Paul Insect’s creative expression has always been fuelled by the sense of rebellion, nonconformity, and constant experimentation and innovation. His early days of working in graphic design informed both his illegal work on the streets back in the days, as well as the visual language of his studio works that are now being shown at galleries worldwide. Free from rules or expectations of the existing formats, yet genuinely appreciative and respectful for the painterly tradition, the London-based artist is nowadays creating works that are an exciting fusion of the vast range of interests and influences he has experienced or developed over the years. With the strong focus on the human figure as the main theme of the work, Insect enjoys exploring different mediums, materials, and techniques while painting distinctive portraits as his signature type of work. Reducing the subject’s appearance to a pair of eyes, one of the most neutral yet recognizable features of Homo Sapiens, the artist builds his visuals and concepts on these compositional and contextual pillars. Through the frequent use of bold colours, pop imagery, and both traditional as well as radical techniques, he constructs vibrant imagery that depicts everyday people and not the ones that seek or desire fame. With an idea to comment on the urge to hide one’s real self, the work is becoming rapidly relevant in the world where physical existence and interaction is getting replaced by the virtual ones. This illusion is arguably best notable in the way he hand-paints the raster dots, baffling the viewer and misleading the perception. And while evoking Warhol’s reinvention of screen print as an artistic technique or tapping into Lichtenstein’s use of rasters and graphic colours, the visuals keep the raw and unforgiving aesthetics of the artist's stencil or pasteup endeavours. Along with paintings on canvas and paper, he is occasionally working with film and puppetry as well as making sculptural work. Using mostly found materials, Insect is effortlessly bridging the gap between the grit of London’s, or any urban place’s alleys, and the pristine space of its white cube fine art venues and institutions.

Over the years Insect has taken part in a number of collaborations and projects, further broadening his interests as well as influencing others. To name a few, he was one of the key figures at the legendary Pictures On Walls print house, has worked alongside Banksy at iconic events such as Cans Festival, Santa's Ghetto project in Bethlehem, or Dismaland, has created large-scale installations at the Glastonbury festival, and has recently designed a series of rainbow benches which were left around lockdown-emptied parts of central London. Along with those, he had a successful series of gallery shows starting with Bullion in 2007, which was entirely brought-out by Damien Hirst before the opening, and then continued with presentations in London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Athens, and Paris. Driven by the genuine urge to create and eager to bend a few rules or trigger a few conversations along the way, his individual works, practice, as well as his career trajectory, has been marked by unexpected twists and intuitive turns, forging an unparalleled legacy of artistic expression.

- Sasha Bogojev