September 23, 2023

French artist Youri Cansell aka Mantra has made a profound impact on the world of street art, transforming vast brick exteriors and the interiors of massive specimen boxes into canvases for his monumental butterfly murals. These colossal murals, showcasing enormous butterflies stretching their wings, cast a gentle, soft shadow on building facades, leaving observers in awe of their delicate beauty.

The Inspiration Behind Mantra’s Butterfly Murals

The Complexity of Studying Insects

Based on both sides of the Atlantic—in Switzerland and Mexico City—Mantra leans into his passion, curiosity, and respect for nature in his work. His inspiration comes from the complex movements and behaviors of insects, particularly butterflies. Mantra explains, “it is quite challenging to study a butterfly so closely that your presence will not disturb them. Their flight patterns are unpredictable, and they rarely spend much time resting on a leaf or flower. However, this is precisely what captivates me.”

Mantra’s Connection with the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve

Mantra’s fascination with butterflies has led him to actively participate in butterfly conservation efforts. He recently had the opportunity to accompany a volunteer research program and census by the Cerro Prieto community inside the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico. This experience further affirmed his practice, enriching his understanding of these delicate creatures and their importance to our ecosystem

Mantra painting a butterfly mural

The Artistic Process

Crafting Freehand Acrylic Murals

Mantra’s murals are not just colossal in size but also in their creative process. He crafts these masterpieces using a freehand technique with acrylic paints, giving him the freedom to explore the intricate details of the Lepidoptera, a group of insects that includes butterflies.

The Signature Style of Mantra’s Murals

The signature style of Mantra’s murals is their life-like representation. The artist’s deep understanding and study of butterflies allow him to recreate them with astonishing precision. Each mural embodies the subtle nuances of a butterfly’s form and movement, bringing a piece of nature to the urban landscape.

butterfly murals

Mantra's mural on a building facade

The Impact and Reach of Mantra’s Art

Transforming Buildings into Canvases

Mantra’s work not only decorates buildings but also transforms them into living exhibits of nature’s beauty. His murals have the power to transport onlookers into a world where nature and urbanity coexist. The artist’s monumental creations serve as a testament to the potential of street art as a medium for environmental advocacy.

The Role of Street Art in Nature Conservation

By turning nature into art, Mantra draws attention to the beauty and significance of insects, encouraging public interest and awareness in their conservation. His murals of butterflies, in their grandeur and intricacy, emphasize the importance of these small creatures in the larger ecosystem.

Close-up of Mantra's freehand acrylic mural

Future Projects and Exhibitions

Upcoming Museum Show in the United States

As Mantra continues to captivate audiences worldwide with his colossal butterfly murals, he is working towards his first museum show in the United States, projected to open next year. This milestone in his career is an opportunity for more people to appreciate the depth and breadth of his work, and for him to continue spreading his love for nature through art.

Final Thoughts on Mantra’s Butterfly Murals

Mantra’s butterfly murals are more than just colossal expressions of nature art; they are a tribute to the beauty and complexity of Lepidoptera. His work serves as a reminder of the intimate connection between humans and the natural world, and the role art can play in fostering this connection. Through his murals, Mantra invites us all to pause, observe, and appreciate the wonders of nature that flutter around us every day.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the inspiration behind Mantra’s butterfly murals? Mantra is inspired by the complex movements and behaviors of insects, especially butterflies. He finds their unpredictable flight patterns and rarity of resting captivating.
  2. How does Mantra create his murals? Mantra uses a freehand technique with acrylic paints to create his murals. This technique allows him to capture the intricate details of butterflies and other insects.
  3. What is the impact of Mantra’s art? Mantra’s art has transformed buildings into canvases for nature’s beauty, raising public interest and awareness in insect conservation. His work also highlights the potential of street art as a medium for environmental advocacy.
  4. What future projects does Mantra have planned? Mantra is working towards his first museum show in the United States, which is projected to open next year.
  5. Where can I see Mantra’s work? Mantra’s work can be seen on buildings and walls in Switzerland and Mexico City. Additionally, you can follow his work on his Instagram and website.

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