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Meaning & Analysis

Mosquito is a canvas produced in 2003 by British street artist and activist, Banksy. It was released in an edition of 25 by Pictures on Walls - Banksy's original UK print house - and measures 25.4cm by 30.3 cm. Back in 2003, when Mosquito was first released, it sold for £250. In 2002, another version of this work, depicting the mosquito against a mosaic-like montage of Queen Elizabeth II's portrait, clad in the same gas mask, was created with with spray paint and emulsion. Mounted on perforated card, the image featured a stencilled-version of Banksy's trademark 'tag'. This particular image of the Queen was the same Banksy used for his provocative Monkey Queen artwork, executed in 2003.

Banksy's Mosquito is a simple, two-coloured image typical of the artist's stencil-based works. It displays a mosquito styled as a military plane, complete with large wings and a gas mask. Depicted as a flying combatant in action, swooping down to attack an enemy, the mosquito is somewhat ironic: the gas mask covers the insect’s bloodsucking head, preventing it from actually hurting anybody.

The blood-sucking mosquito could be interpreted as a representation of the casualties of war. Yet the generally negative connotations of the mosquito also lend the piece a critical edge - perhaps it alludes to the desperation of soldiers fighting in war, caught in a difficult position somewhere between duty and morality? The central figure of the composition - the mosquito - is placed inside a circular field of 21 red stars, which recall those surrounding the mountain peak in Banksy's Paranoid Pictures image.