A Giant Makoto Azuma Floral Installation Is Growing Near Tulum

The acclaimed Japanese botanical sculptor unveils one of his most ambitious works yet, a giant floral arrangement growing within the “Guggenheim of the Jungle.”

Makoto Azuma

Makoto Azuma’s ambitions have always been astronomical. In his hands, flowers find themselves in impossible places doing unnatural things—bonsai trees travel to outer space and the deep sea; blossoms are encased in ice blocks and planted onto a Dries Van Noten runway; unruly bouquets are used as props in Danish punk rock performances. Though noted for his radical expressions, the acclaimed Japanese botanical sculptor grounds his practice in a subtle reverence for life’s fleeting nature and conducts his mind-bending experiments in an unassuming workshop on a quiet Tokyo backstreet. His latest achievement is earthly but no less grand: a giant floral installation growing inside SFER IK Museion, the biophilic cultural institution near Tulum, deemed the “Guggenheim of the Jungle.” 

Azuma crafted the sculpture, called Mexx, in response to the surrounding verdant landscape and SFER IK’s undulating open-air structure, a fantastical oasis designed by Roth-Architecture that’s entirely devoid of flat floors, walls, or ceilings. “When conceptualizing Mexx, I was inspired by the unique architecture of SFER IK,” Azuma says. “It’s made by humans but done in unique dialogue with the jungle. The museum itself feels like an organism, and I wanted to create a new biophilic encounter between species within it that will naturally evolve over time.”

“Mexx” by Makoto Azuma at SFER IK Museion. Image courtesy Azulik

As the exhibition runs its course, the artwork will bloom into and throughout the museum, speaking to Azuma’s fascination with cycles of life and death while exploring the traditional Japanese conception of negative space. Visitors are free to meander inside, and when the exhibition wraps up, on September 7, SFER IK and Azuma will dismantle the artwork and donate all living flowers to the local community.

Mexx’s unveiling coincides with the long-awaited return of SFER IK, which temporarily closed during the pandemic but reopened this past week under the leadership of newly appointed director Marcello Dantas. The interdisciplinary arts center is the beating heart of a sprawling, ten-acre creative complex called Azulik Uh May, a bustling “City of Arts” that encompasses local workshops for artisans working in macramé, ceramics, textiles, woodworking, and architecture. 

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