Youri Cansell, aka Mantra, is a consummate artist and naturalist. While equally adept at painting humans as animals, Mantra is especially fascinated by entomology, the world of insects. Mining memories of his childhood garden in France, he now paints exquisite murals, often of moths and butterflies, on urban surfaces where these ephemeral beings are seldom seen in the wild.
With acute sensitivity to his surroundings, Mantra works to create organic relationships between his subjects and their environments. His renderings of infinitely varied species are always spectacularly beautiful and scientifically accurate to the last detail. Poignantly he usually depicts these creatures as lifeless specimens displayed in an exhibit case, a heartbreaking comment on lost biodiversity.
From apartment buildings in New York City to an enormous dome in Mexico, I’ve seen Mantra persevere through extreme heat, major lift malfunctions and the usual distractions of creating art in public. His exceptional technical ability paired with his passion for nature and human experience not only enlivens our cities but alerts us to pressing global issues.