The launch presentation with the mayor, Francisco de la Torre in the centre. / MIGUE FERNÁNDEZ

All eyes on Malaga for Picasso 2023

The city is marking 50 years since the death of the locally born artist with an extensive programme including four major exhibitions of his works

FRANCISCO GRIÑÁN MALAGA.

Museums and art galleries are the normal places to see Picasso. But the other day, the Malaga-born artist was the focus of attention at the city's glamorous Albéniz cinema instead, during a Hollywood-style gala.

This was the launch of Picasso Year 2023, the international programme of activities drawn up by the governments of Spain and France to mark 50 years since the death of the artist who, among so many other works, created the famous painting Guernica.

The focus of the activities will be four exhibitions at Malaga's Picasso Museum and the Casa Natal (the house where Picasso was born). The promotional message for the year's celebration takes many forms but specifically emphasises the links between the artist and the city. There will be a website about Malaga and its links with the painter, travel cards will show information about the anniversary, new books are being published and there will be an audioguide for Picasso walking routes which can be downloaded on mobile phones.

The presentation stressed that, while there are museums dedicated to Picasso and plenty of others containing some of his works, only one city can boast of being his hometown.

"It is a fantastic city and he was an artistic genius, and that is an unbeatable combination," said Malaga mayor, Francisco de la Torre, urging tourists to come and discover the charms of Malaga and Picasso for themselves.

During 2023 the innovation for which the creator of Cubism was known all his life will be highlighted with two, not-to-be-missed exhibitions at the Picasso Museum: Materia y Cuerpo, about Picasso the sculptor, one of his least known talents, from 9 May to 10 September, and then El Eco de Picasso, which looks at his influence on art from the mid-20th century to the present day, which starts on 3 October.

José Lebrero, the artistic director of the Picasso Museum, quoted Picasso as he explained the content of these two exhibitions. "When an expert catalogued all his sculptural work in the 1960s and Picasso saw the book, his reaction was, "It's like discovering an unknown civilisation."

Promoting the later El Eco de Picasso exhibition, Lebrero again quoted the artist: "Bad artists copy, good ones steal," he said. "Come to an exhibition in which you can see contemporary artists born after the 1950s, many of them still active today, who have stolen something from Picasso, whether it be his values, content or his way of understanding art," he added. Another cause for celebration this year is that October marks 20 years since the Picasso Museum itself opened in Calle Agustín and transformed the cultural scene in Malaga.

The nearby house and birthplace of Picasso also has a reason to celebrate this year because it is 35 years since the foundation that runs it, and which highlights and actively promotes the relationship between Picasso and Malaga, was created.

Director José María Luna explained that this Casa Natal will be holding its most ambitious exhibition ever this year, which examines the different stages of Picasso's works, with examples on loan from Madrid's Reina Sofía museum, the Picasso Museum in Barcelona and Mapfre foundation. From 18 October another display, La Imagen de Picasso, will show how the artist's iconic image evolved in the media.

Other venues and organisations in Malaga city will also be participating in Picasso Year 2023 with exhibitions or related activities, including the Museo Jorge Rando, the interactive music museum, the University and the Festival de Malaga, among others.

"This will be a very special year all over the city," said the city's councillor for Culture, Noelia Losada.