Banksy Trend Report Q2

Mosquito

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Critical Review

Mosquito by British street artist and activist Banksy is a canvas from 2003. It was released as an edition of 25 pieces by Pictures on Walls, Banksy's original UK print house. It measures 25.4 by 30.3 cm. Back in 2003 when Mosquito was released, it sold for £250. Another version of this work, depicting the mosquito against a mosaic-like montage of Queen Elizabeth’s portrait with the same gas mask against her face, was created in 2002 with spray paint and emulsion on perforated card stencilled with the artist’s name. This image of the queen is the same Banksy used for his provocative and controversial Monkey Queen artwork executed in 2003.

Mosquito by Banksy is a simple two-coloured image made with acrylic and spray paint on canvas. It displays a stenciled mosquito styled as a military force with large wings and a gas mask. It is painted as a flying combatant in action, swooping down to attack, however the image simultaneously strikes as ironic and anachronistic: the gas mask covers the insect’s bloodsucking head, disabling it from actually hurting anybody.

The blood-sucking mosquito can be interpreted as the artist’s representation of the casualties of war. Yet, the eerie effect of the image and the generally negative association with mosquitos also gives it an antagonistic air - perhaps it also alludes to the desperate soldiers fighting in war, caught and suffocating between duty and morality. The central figure of the composition is placed inside a circular field of 21 red stars, which reminds of the stars surrounding the mountain peak in Banksy's Paranoid Pictures. The artist's name is not visible on the image but is present on the overlap.