A vast, multi layered, multifaceted melting pot of culture, heritage and commerce, Mexico City can rightfully claim its crowd as the planet’s hippest metropolis. With extraordinary mid-century and colonial architecture, bohemian barrios like Roma Norte, world-class dining – from street food to Michelin stars – and arguably the best nightlife in the Americas, it’s a city like no other, and it is quite literally built upon the past – scratch the surface of the steaming asphalt and you’ll find archaeological evidence dating back to the time of the Aztecs. It’s this rich cultural heritage that’s inspiring a wave of young artists and gallerists who are flocking to the city from wider parts of Mexico, Europe and North America.
Mexico City's Design Scene
The artist Diego Rivera once revealed that the secret to his best work was that ‘it is Mexican’, and this claim perhaps explains the intrinsic connection with the culture that many artists experience the moment they step foot in Mexico City. Artists like the American sculptor Alma Allen and his wife Su Wu, who moved to the city from California’s Joshua Tree. On arrival, the couple bought the light-drenched 6,000-square-foot historical landmark building in the Roma Norte neighbourhood that was formerly home to William S. Burroughs. It is now the HQ of Casa Ahorita, a shop-stroke-gallery-stroke-taller where Wu sells primitive ceramics and one-off homewares ranging from fashion to art and furniture. Allen, meanwhile, has a fully equipped studio an hour south of Tepotzlán, in a valley surrounded by a vast escarpment that Wu describes as ‘a Chinese scroll-painting of cliffs—the whole place is jungly and wild.’
Over in the trendy Juárez neighbourhood, design-world luminaries Rudy Weissenberg and Rodman Primack represents a colourful flock of designers, architects, artists and photographers at their gallery, AGO. ‘We are obsessed with design,’ they declare, offering everything from furniture to paintings, pottery and rugs and collaborating with established artists like Pedro Reyes and cult architects Pedro y Juana, whose metal tables are inspired by Mexico’s classic fonda culture. Fresh from a collab with the eminent Sotheby’s auction house, MASA is a nomadic gallery that blurs the line between art and design. The hyper-contemporary MASA team works alongside creatives like the Michoacán-based sculptor Ana Pellicer, who has been working with copper and brass for five decades and also runs the artist colony the Adolfo Best-Maugard School of Arts and Crafts, which she established with her late husband, the sculptor James Metcalf. In the leafy Bosque de Chapultepec, lakeside hub Lago/Algo is composed of two distinct elements, with the idea being to create a fluid narrative between the sustainable farm-to-table restaurant (Lago) and the exhibition space (Algo), an independent cultural area run by of-the-moment OMR Gallery that aims to inspire observations on humanity. The thread that links these destinations is both the honouring of CDMX’s artistic heritage and a dedication to a sustainable future. While highlighting a plethora of disparate disciplines – from expatriate Frenchman Yann Gerstberger large-scale mixed-media collages depicting Mexican pop culture to Fabien Capello’s woven, synthetic Silla Tabachín – there is a clear desire to open up a conversation about the planet and our place upon it. As cult CDMX artist Alejandra España explains, ‘through poetic narratives that oscillate between the visible and the invisible, I am exploring the way we make sense of the world.’