Published On: Wed, Dec 26th, 2018

Azulik Uh May: A fantastical Art School in the middle of the jungle outside Tulum

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If you drive around 20 minutes inland from Tulum’s beachside resorts, you’re likely to spy otherworldly treehouses peeking out from the lush Quintana Roo jungle. These wondrous structures, built with the natural bounty of the land, are the first signs of Azulik Uh May, a new, one-of-a-kind arts center.
The first phase of Azulik Uh May opened to visitors in late November, with a new space for the contemporary art gallery IK Lab and a residence that will host occasional gatherings. The latter is the home of the self-taught architect Jorge Eduardo Neira Sterkel, who goes by Roth.
He is the owner of Azulik, a lux, eco-friendly Tulum resort, as well as the new development, which will expand to become a complex of buildings—the beating heart of which will be an interdisciplinary arts-and-crafts school, inspired and driven by the creative talent of the local Mayan population.
Azulik Uh May embraces a spirit similar to Azulik in its reverence for nature, embrace of spirituality, and sustainable building practices. IK Lab, which first opened at the resort this past April, is a spectacular feat of architecture—an undulating, womb-like structure made from local vines and synthetic concrete, punctuated by living trees and plants—which couldn’t be further from the traditional white cube.
The gallery’s program has already included prominent international artists like Tatiana Trouvé and Ernesto Neto.
Image of Azulik Uh May in Tulum, Mexico. Courtesy of Enchanting Transformation.

 Image of Azulik Uh May in Tulum, Mexico. Courtesy of Enchanting Transformation.

The new IK Lab space at Azulik Uh May opened with a show curated by artistic director Claudia Paetzold, featuring installations by Neto, Paulo NazarethMargo Trushina, and Oskar Metsavaht. This gallery is perhaps even more impressive than the first: a 16-meter-high dome made from concrete and bejuco vines, based on Fibonacci proportions. Dozens of living trees shoot up from the ground as pale ribbons of concrete snake between them up above.
“You’re really invited to connect to your own creative inspiration when you’re in a space like this, it’s very much alive,” said Paetzold. “For the artists, it’s quite rewarding to see their work here—to see how their creative process relates to the creative process of nature.”

Images of Azulik Uh May in Tulum, Mexico. Courtesy of Enchanting Transformation.

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