The Hall of Mirrors at Malaga city hall filled with artists and politicians, from both the national and international arena, to witness the presentation of an honorary OBE to Fernando Francés, the director of the CAC (Malaga’s Contemporary Art Centre.)
British ambassador Simon Manley presented Francés with the honorary OBE medal, after praising the CAC for helping to strengthen ties between the two countries and uniting the two cultures. He added that Francés has also made the CAC “a launch pad for British art” in the way that it has helped raise its international profile.
Indeed, over the last 14 years in which he has been director of one of Spain’s most influential museums, Francés has overseen the installation of a diverse range of exhibitions by British artists. Sculptor Tony Cragg, painter Peter Doig and Turner Prize winner Tracey Emin are just some of the names on a long list of British artists who have had their work celebrated at the CAC.
It was clear from Francés’ speech that he has great admiration for British artists and their work. He described how he is “captivated” by the boldness and “non-politically correct nature” of British art, and has therefore promoted it in a concerted effort “to bring the most innovative, influential and risky art” to the Malaga museum.
The director’s affiliation to Britain perhaps extends further than his appreciation of the country’s artists, as a pair of Union Jack flag socks peeped out from under the hem of his trousers.
Francés also made sure to stress his view of art as a hugely important influencer in society, particularly during the current period of political and social turmoil, and that it should always seek to provoke a reaction in the viewer.
“All forms of art have the duty to engage people to help combat these troubling times,” he stated.