A RETURN VISIT TO MY ONCE HOME-TOWN OF MÁLAGA LEFT ME DEEPLY IMPRESSED. SEEING THE FAST AND DYNAMIC TRANSFORMATION IT'S UNDERGONE FELT LIKE SEEING AN OLD FRIEND THRIVE AFTER A LONG TIME.
A lifelong fan of paintings, sculpture and museums, I first paid homage to Málaga’s most famous son: Pablo Picasso. Get a feel for Picasso in his birth house at 13, Plaza de la Merced and the nearby Picasso Museum in the historical heart of the city. Although he spent most of his working life outside Spain, memories of his early years growing up in the shade of the magnificent castle of Gibralfaro and the Roman Theater stayed with him and influenced his work.
I met up with my friend, Michael Soffe, who runs a gourmet food tour. A true Malageño for 26 years, he sums up brilliantly what makes Málaga such an attractive destination for an art and culture lover.
“I love what has happened on the art scene in the city over the last 10 years. The opening of the Picasso Museum was just the start. Add to this the Carmen Thyssen Museum, the Contemporary Art Center (CAC) and the Pompidou Center and we are spoilt for choice. Most fascinating though is the wonderful street art in the areas of Soho and Lagunillas with their cafes and restaurants which have become popular hangouts for local artists and it’s easy to understand why the city is fast becoming a cultural destination for people from all over the world.”
Following his advice, I made my way to Soho. It’s a triangular shaped part of the city, beginning behind the CAC, bordered by Alameda Principal to the north, the Guadalmina River to the west and Avenida de Manuel Agustin Heredia to the east, leading to the port and Muelle de Heredia. It’s the port part which had fallen into disarray until an initiative by MAUS (Málaga Arte Urbano Soho) brought international and local artists to the area who transformed it into a thriving cultural and “happening” art center.
I couldn’t tear my eyes away from a seven-story-high mural, painted by D*Face aka Dean Stockton on the façade of the Garcia Lorca Secondary School. He depicts a fighter pilot next to a woman symbolizing Peace and Freedom. And that’s just one of many which cover nearly every free wall space in the district, imbuing it with new life.
Soho and the museums' world of Málaga are best explored on foot, which requires the occasional pit stop in a café. As luck would have it, I came upon Mamuchis (called Casas de Campos), in the center of Soho. The restaurant/café immediately caught my eye, because I found an artist in action, a rare treat. Transforming the façade into a colorful garden of flowers and trees, renowned Málaga artist Enrique Linaza put down his brush to share some of Leticia’s delicious tea and a chat with me.
“What inspired me to paint this mural,” he says, “are the lemon and orange trees of Málaga and the fruit and vegetable used in the Mediterranean cuisine and found in Málaga’s Ataranzas market. An appropriate subject for Mamuchis of course! I love Málaga’s climate and people, the castle of Gibralfaro and the view over the city and the sea which I like to paint. Mamuchis is one of my favorite hangouts together with other painter friends and we all are thrilled about how Soho has developed and proud of our part in it.”
One of his painter colleagues is another Málaga born artist, Dadi Dreucol, a self-proclaimed non-conformist and rebel. Beloved by the people of Málaga, you can see his street art in 12, Calle Tomas Heredia/Soho.
Málaga is the city with the largest number of museums in Andalucia. Not all of them are dedicated to painting and sculpture, so let me mention my favorite.
Lovers of automobile history and vintage cars absolutely have to see the Automobile Museum. It’s the private collection of Portuguese car fanatic Joao Magalhaes and comprises more than 80 cars, among them a Swarovski crystal-encrusted Rolls Royce. Málaga and art are inseparable so the theme of the museum is “Cars as Art” including custom painted car bodies. Best of all, if you really want to make an impact and have some money to burn, you can hire a chauffeur-driven gold Bentley with leopard print upholstery or some other outstanding vintage cars. You’ll be sure to turn heads. Museo Automovilistico is located in Avda. De Sor Teresa Prat, in the direction of the airport.
All these are my favorite places in Málaga. But there's one thing I'm sure of: Málaga offers everyone a list of their favorites.