When a Guggenheim opens a gallery, the world listens. Gallerist and art advisor Santiago Rumney-Guggenheim has done just that in Tulum, turning the city into a new force to take into account in the contemporary art scene.
The gallery promises to exhibit an impressive list of contemporary artists and encourage creativity in the Yucatan Peninsula. It is the vision of Jorge Eduardo Neira Sterkel, owner and CEO of the luxurious Tulum Azulik retreat where the gallery is located, who called Peggy Guggenheim’s great-grandson to serve as director. Together, the duo has conceived a place that seeks to serve both the local community and the avalanche of international tourists from the holiday destination.
Tulum was a quiet city on the beach before becoming the bustling but sustainable access point of Mexico that it is today, but its reputation for art has remained non-existent. In addition to Pablo Escobar’s old mansion (now the Casa Malca art hotel), tourists traveled to Tulum to enjoy the tequila-filled beach and not for cultural enrichment.
Now, visitors to the ancient pre-Columbian walled city will have access to the work of some of the world’s most exciting contemporary creators in a magical environment. Designed by self-taught architect Neira Sterkel, the building has been created without formal architectural plans and is inspired by the lush jungles of the region.
The space is carefully designed, up to the polished cement and the local floor of raw bejuco wood, which guests can only step on barefoot. As they take off their shoes and enter the space, the innovative curved walls and the roof of a bird’s nest greet them. The sounds outside are deliberately silenced, inviting visitors to put aside their hectic lives and become one with art. All the work shown in the gallery is being commissioned for the unique space, which is designed so that the sun enters the rooms through large circular windows and between the wooden branches that are intertwined to enclose the space. The entire building rises to the height of the tree canopy that surrounds it.
Although this tree house feels like the opposite of a gallery of white cubes, its contents do not. The opening exhibition, Alignments, which opened on April 20, 2018, is co-curated by Guggenheim and Claudia Paetzold and presents works by Tatiana Trouvé, Artur Lescher and Margo Trushina that “ explore the human journey through the kingdoms physical and metaphysical. ” Exhibition ‘Alignments’.
IK LAB is important to Guggenheim both because of the artwork it will exhibit and the lofty vision he and Neira Sterkel have for the gallery.
“My story with Tulum is deeply rooted and this project is very close to my heart,” Guggenheim explains. ‘IK LAB is more than a gallery: it aims to provide a framework for the best creative minds in the world to interact with the visionary architecture of the gallery and explore new forms of creation.
Like the trees that surround it, IK LAB is the root of what the duo imagines as a much greater goal. The plan in the coming years is to open an art school for local youth and organize a multidisciplinary artist residence. This future center will be located 20 km from the complex and will house 14 artists in various fields, including painting, sculpture, music and culinary arts.
Tulum has always prided itself on sustainability and spirituality, and so does IK LAB. Just when it rises from the forest, it gives rise to a new side of this bustling coastal city, which welcomes you in a warm wave of art, culture and education.