Chilil, Huixtan, 1988
An emerging artist of the first order, Gerardo K’ulej is a trained mathematician and physics teacher, who explores the interface between Western and Mayan “reality” — where the physical and spiritual worlds coincide.
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K’ulej was reared in a Tsotsil-speaking family and a campesino lifestyle, while he also assumed his family’s high regard for academic excellence and international “modern” culture.
Curiously, his education and early work experience caused a “return” in terms of his interest and passion for the great Mayan heritage.
“Fortunately for me, I did not get in to high school on the first try.”
“That year I became a stonemason and assistant to the sculptor and architect Federico Burkha.” Burkha was living in San Cristóbal de las Casas. Years later, in 2016, K’ulej resumed his study of sculpture and participation in architectural projects with the San Cristóbal artist, Kees Grootenboer.
K’ulej also worked as a gardener, which spurred him to study biochemical engineering.
He started to carve in wood, creating a human figure with one arm made of wires, which he called “El futuro” (“The future”), to represent humanity’s attempt to improve the quality of life using implanted bionic elements. He says, “I still didn’t know if what I had done could be considered art.”
“I just kept experimenting, until, thanks to an exhibition at the Technological Institute of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, I was able to show that being an engineer involved having an artistic side.”
K’ulej is presently preparing an exhibit of small-scale sculpture illustrating various ideas of the physical-spiritual world, combining Western and Mayan concepts.