In December 2020, a remarkable scene unfolded on the side of a building in the neighborhood of Jussieu in Versailles, France. Larger-than-life ladybug legs scurry along a stem, violet flowers blossom, and ornate butterflies perch on delicate petals. Over the course of six days, the French street artist Mantra completed the painting “Là où fleurit l’émerveillement,” which translates to “where wonder flourishes,” using rollers and brushes to apply acrylic painting to the multistory residential building. In the neighborhood named for French botanist Bernard de Jussieu (1699-1777), the artist pays tribute to nature and local wildlife.
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Known for his trompe l’oeil murals of butterflies encased in enormous specimen display boxes, his recent paintings, including “Three Butterflies for Lana” completed last month in Lana, Italy, take a wilder approach to the insects. Drawing on childhood memories of exploring wildlife in the garden of his family’s home, the new murals are composed from photographs the artist took in his mother’s garden in Lessy. Referencing the shallow depth of field captured with his camera, Mantra pays special attention to bokeh — faithfully recreating the blurry background that blends the work with the surrounding environment, drawing attention to the vibrant colors and varied patterns of petals, wings, and leaves.
You can find more of Mantra’s work on Instagram.