The roof of the Atarazanas market in Malaga city.
The roof of the Atarazanas market in Malaga city. / SUR

On the tiles

  • Know the 'Ateneo'...? At the heart of the city centre, it's the place to go if in search of Malaga's cultural identity

Anight out on the tiles - "reelin' and a-rockin... till the break of dawn" - already feels like a hazy recollection to many revellers hit by pandemic restrictions. In Paris, once known as the capital of the French Touch, curfew jokes in the vein of "What next? Virtual pyjama parties?" are the dernier cri.

On both sides of the Pyrenees, former partygoers have had no alternative but to 'downsize' from clubbing to lo-fi home lounging; and whilst ravers will always be ravers, pumping up the car stereo to full volume... softer, more genteel cultural thrills are set to enjoy a boom. "Early dinner" menus are the latest restaurant marketing ploy.

On the tiles

In the know

Corona or no corona, autumn is upon the Costa. The clocks go back on the last Sunday of October. The streets near the seafront will soon be strewn with desiccated palm tree fronds.

A poetic aura, imbued with a familiar sense of melancholia, envelops the centre of Malaga, propitious to the intimacy of smaller-scale artistic events - the polar opposite of summer blockbusters...

Arty Malagueños nip into relatively low-key venues such as the Ateneo de Málaga, 'en camino' for the warmth of their homes, after a spot of shopping on Calle Larios.

Just off the Plaza de la Constitución, at the beginning of Calle Compañia, which leads to the Thyssen Museum, the Ateneo is open from 6 to 9.30pm, Monday to Friday.

Founded half a century ago, housed since 2000 in a narrow, lofty historical building adjacent to a church, which belonged to Jesuit fathers during the first of its multiple and varied incarnations, this congenial athenaeum has developed a unique identity, over the decades.

On the tiles

The secret of its success? Perhaps the welcoming atmosphere that pervades its quaint unassuming premises, and the engagingly eclectic spectrum of 'tertulia'-style gatherings and exhibitions it proffers. This distinctly old-skool 'Asociación cultural' has somehow managed to become a hub of contemporary art and photography, and that duality is part of its charm.

Malaga Patterns

What caught my eye - and imagination - last time I walked up the steep staircase leading from the ground-floor display (in this instance, a group show curated by Soho gallery El Estudio Ignacio del Rio...)? An exhibition with a mission. To be seen until 27 November, Malaga Patterns maps out and decodes the visual identity of its conceptor's beloved city, via the ornamental motifs recurrent in its tiles, mosaics and cobblestones.

On the tiles

Ancient or recent, hydraulic cement floor and wall tiling is ubiquitous in Malaga. Hence the power of fascination of the eponymous bilingual (Spanish/English) companion book, also masterminded by graphic artist Nielo Muñoz; at the crossroads of conceptual artwork and photographic 'citylogue', Malaga Patterns whisks the reader from past to present, from churches with a Mudejar influence all the way to Daniel Buren's design for the Pompidou Centre aka 'El Cubo'.

Virtual landmark

One of the Ateneo de Málaga's special attractions is an "amazing maze" conceived by Malaga-based artist, Ernst Kraft.

Situated in a courtyard, which the Ateneo shares with a primary school, this contemplative labyrinth - visible to the public from its inner windows only - leads the onlooker step by step to a "highly symbolic" central image, representing a human brain. For a bird's eye view of the maze, go to Google maps and search for El Laberinto del Patio de Ernst Kraft.