TINASAH: The Reason Tulum Would Become Mexico’s Street Art Capital
Living in Tulum can sometimes turn into a love / hate relationship. On one hand you have the ancient vibes broadcasted in a continuous flow from the Mayan temple ruins, scattered all over the Yucatan Peninsula. On the other hand, almost everything is coated with a luxurious layer of pseudo spiritual color, as attractive as a light bulb for nocturnal insects. You can lose yourself into the misty jungle to discover a premium condominium, A/C and branded dreamcatchers included. You can dive into an amazing cenote, yet cautious not to photobomb some instagram influencer’s pose.
Tulum nowadays is about balance. Balance between the pristine landscape and the human habitats. Between material and spiritual. Between ego and soul. We run all day long for our property management duties in Tulum just to find time in the afternoon for our yoga practice or a sound healing session. Balance.
We discovered we’re not the only ones living on this thin line of balance in Tulum. Tinasah is an artist collective born in Tulum, responsible for most of the amazing murals you can admire on Tulum walls. They are also the driving force behind F.A.T. (Festival Arte Tinasah), an independent project aimed at enhancing Tulum’s urbanscape. Tinasah murals talk about social integration and nature preservation, two of the hottest topics right now in Tulum.
Here’s Tinasah illustrated story and mission, as we discovered it through a short yet comprehensive interview for EssentiAll Tulum.
How did the Tinasah urban art collective appear in the first place?
It started around 8 years ago as a movement of artists gathering in Tulum. Individually and collectively we’ve been making art for the purpose of culture, environment, fun and growth. Art events, live painting, art happenings and making murals for years with new artists coming and getting together. Until 2017 we officially formed TINASAH.
Who is part of the Tinasah collective?
We are not a set number of artists, we are always growing and changing. We are many different artists from around the world, local and international.
Beside bringing color and life to Tulum, what is your mission?
Our mission is to learn to work together for a higher purpose within the arts, making art to surround the place where we live with beautiful and interesting images that could make you smile or feel amazed. We want to make public art available for everyone and to communicate messages that we feel are important for Tulum at the moment. We believe art should not be exclusive and only for certain kinds of people, it should be inclusive and available for all.
It is also our mission to make Tulum the capital of street art in Mexico.
Where does the inspiration come from for your works?
Every artists has different interests and inspirations. Still we all coincide on the appreciation and inspiration for and from Tulum and its surroundings.
If you were to choose 3 essential walls in Tulum for your murals, where these would be? Why?
‘Union’: by Valeria Navarrete and Alaniz This mural was designed according to what was happening in Tulum at the moment; many foreigners come to live to Tulum. The melting pot is growing. We chose to depict this growth in a positive manner: the union of foreigners and the local Mayan people.
‘Play the Wall’: one of the biggest murals in Tulum painted by Emma Rubens and Valeria Navarette depicts children that actually live in Tulum. The artists know the children personally. This mural expresses the freedom and joy that children can teach us, and was represented for our borders situation we have in the world: “We will always find a way to play, despite borders”.
‘Belen’: Painted by Emma Rubens. This was more of a personal project for the artist and a gift for a young girl. Emma has known Belen, a young girl growing up in this town for many years. Emma’s first street mural was very close to Belen’s house. Belen has seen Emma painting in the street many times, and always asked Emma when she would paint her. Emma promised her one day she would. After getting permission to paint this gigantic wall, Emma kept her promise and painted Belen.
The thing you love most about Tulum
The amazing natural surroundings, beaches and cenotes. And the sense of community amongst the inhabitants who have been living here for a while.
The thing you hate about Tulum
Greedy development and the environmental impact.
Tell us more about the FATTULUM Festival
F.A.T (Festival Arte TINASAH) is our first edition of a mural festival organized by artists for artists. We want to create better and bigger murals with great artists from around the world and develop this with the cooperation of the community, where we are all participants on the creation of a beautiful town. It is totally independent, funded and sponsored by many local businesses and people of the town. We also want to be able to speak through these murals to enhance our points of view on current world situations or subjects to promote positive and uplifting images.
The murals that are most representative for Tulum
Play the wall, Hope, Union
The most complex mural you created in Tulum
Generally, making murals in Tulum is in itself quite a challenge, comparing to other places of the world specially because of the strong sun and heat. Also our lack of stable strong scaffolding, lack of funds to rent lifts etc. We have several murals that have been huge challenges. But the most complex has probably been ‘Mexico’ painted by Alaniz, located on the main avenue. We were unable to put scaffolding here as there was no solid structure below the wall, we couldn’t hang scaffolding because the roof has a pool and palapa structures. So the artist had to stand 2 meters away from the wall and paint the whole thing with an extension painting pole. The bare breeze block was also extremely absorbing.
The most interesting subject you were commissioned to paint in Tulum until now
We very much appreciate it when we get commissions where the artist has freedom of own style and choice of theme.