Friday, 9 June 2023, 11:33
He says he loves painting in the street, although there are only three murals in his name around the city. That's why he was so enthusiastic when the local culture department proposed a project that would set Malaga's history in stone.
"A child's dream is to paint on the wall and they've given me this enormous one to make me as happy as a child," says cartoonist Ángel Idígoras in front of his enormous finished work, 21 metres long and almost four metres high. He used the space to sum up more than 200,000 years of the life of this land through 37 unique Malaga-born people. He, fortunately, has taken a little less time.
"I've been here since March, day after day, and I only took a break on Sundays. I even used to do the daily cartoons for SUR over there," says Idígoras, pointing to one of the tables in the cafeteria of the Félix Ariza community centre, which he used as an improvised and almost permanent office.
While it has been a hard job because of the sheer size and ambition of telling the story of Malaga since the Stone Age, Idígoras points out that he has had help, starting with his three children, Pablo, Marta and Daniel Codes who are also good at drawing; his wife, Sonia, who "has taken care of the large brush, painting the sky to the sea and the sand" to create the backdrop for the mural; and the acting councillor for culture and the Teatinos district, Noelia Losada, who proposed the graffiti project.
"Well, it's not graffiti because it's not done with spray paint, it's a fresco," says the artist, as we walk along Calle La Sonata - behind Pintor Denis Belgrano primary school - to go over all the characters in the mural, although there are many more who aren't there.
"People stop and suggest new characters to me, so I'm ready to make another one just like it as a mirror... although I'll take a little break first," he says.
"To begin with, I drew a prehistoric man with a spear and I thought of putting some sardines on it and suddenly I discovered the inventor of the 'espeto' [he refers to the sardines grilled on skewers over an open fire at local beach bars]... and that's probably how it did start. My son also painted a trilobite underneath, a prehistoric creature that is the ancestor of our crustaceans."
2, 3, 4
No characters from that first Iberian and Phoenician Malaga of Cerro del Villar and the surrounding area have come down to us, but Ángel Idígoras has depicted them in the form of a warrior with a spear, this time without sardines, and boats from the East that brought the first settlers to the city.
The first great discovery of the mural is this Roman woman who demands greater recognition in local history. "She was a slave who married her master and became a very influential person in imperial Malaga," Idígoras says about this 2nd-century character.
"The first man to fly in the history of mankind was this man from Ronda who climbed a tower in Cordoba with two wings that he made himself and glided off. He broke two legs, but proved that man could fly. An airport in Baghdad is named after him."
Another man to inherit the the warlike and rebellious spirit of Malaga is this Andalusian warrior born in Parauta and founder of Bobastro, from where he led the uprising against the powerful Umayyads of the Emirate of Cordoba (880-918).
The statue of the philosopher outside the Roman theatre serves as inspiration for his portrait in the mural, in which he is remembered and vindicated as the most influential Neoplatonist in the medieval Arab philosophical tradition, as well as an exceptional poet.
"Another outstanding Ronda native was this writer, poet and priest who was the author of picaresque novels, gave his name to the 'espinela' (a poem with ten verses) and, something very few people know, he was also the one who added a fifth string to guitars."
On the list of history's losers is General Torrijos who, despite his sad fate, earned immortality with his fight against absolutism for which he was shot along with 48 of his surviving comrades without trial on the beach of San Andrés in Malaga.
With his dress coat and pronounced nose, Idígoras sketches this favourite son of Macharaviaya who became a hero of the American war of independence.
Seated and dressed in black, the caricature of this 19th-century philanthropist depicts a woman who dedicated her fortune and her determination to helping the sick, the poor and the disabled.
One of the "essential" figures in Malaga's history, as Idígoras tells us. Prime minister and a key figure at the end of the 19th century in Spain, he was assassinated.
"Senator and Marquis, his image is the one that stands on the monument at the entrance to the street that bears his name, so we have put him on a pedestal of sand to include him in this mural that covers the city's coastline from the lighthouse to the big chimney known as 'Monica'."
Another Ronda man who left his mark with his revolutionary education system that led to the creation and direction of the Institución Libre de Enseñanza, so influential in early 20th-century Spain.
Malaga's musical history is included with this important figure of flamenco, who is drawn by Idígoras with his inseparable guitar.
"Another of those women who is little known but contributed a great deal," says Idígoras, about this intellectual and globetrotting ambassador who ended up dying in exile for her support of the Republic.
"A must." No more words are needed. His shorts, his striped shirt and his iconic bald head speak for themselves in his caricature on the mural.
The father of the Andalusian homeland. "From Casares," the cartoonist emphasises in case anyone does not know the origin of the politician who was also closely linked to Archidona.
Lawyer, politician and pioneer. The first woman to join the Madrid Bar Association, the first woman in the world to practise as a lawyer before a military court and one of the three women MPs in Congreso during the Second Republic.
"This is a vindication of mine. He worked in the slaughterhouse and was signed by an Italian circus when they saw him doing somersaults on the beach of El Bulto. He was the best soiree clown, although he is largely unknown. So much so that we don't even know when he was born and when he died."
The Maharani of Kapurthala is also included in this review of history, dressed in her Indian sari as in the famous painting by Massés that portrays her in the Museum of Malaga.
23 & 25
"I couldn't choose between one and the other because these poets are like our Laurel and Hardy," confesses the cartoonist, who has portrayed the members of the Generation of '27 and founders of the magazine 'Litoral' arm in arm.
If we go back a few steps we find the shipwreck of the famous German frigate in 1900, which left us a popular bridge and a story to tell that mixes tragedy, bravery and solidarity.
She is the third wheel, along with Prados and Altolaguirre. Another of those intellectuals of 1927 who suffered exile and were always accompanied by dignity and words.
Spanish copla singer with a unique personality, he was persecuted by Franco's dictatorship for his homosexuality and ended up in exile in Argentina.
A character who has recently left anonymity: she was the first professional woman footballer, thanks to her talent for dribbling on a pitch reserved only for men.
"A pioneer of aviation who is also very unknown. I had a surprise when her children came a few days ago to see the mural," says the artist.
"This flamenco singer died very young but left such a mark that she must be remembered," says Idígoras.
Words are also superfluous with this immortal comedian who is drawn doing his silly walk while he seems to be saying his catchword "fistro".
"I don't know her personally but we have a friend in common and, through her, I asked if she didn't mind if I included her and she told me she was delighted," says Ángel Idígoras, who chose to draw the adult Pepa instead of the child actress and singer Marisol.
"It brings back bad memories because when I had my heart attack I was painting him. But well, I've done it again and it's clear that it wasn't his fault," he says with affectionate irony about the legendary Tabletom singer.
"A must." Say no more.
The Olympic sailing medallist also has her place in this list of illustrious Malagueños and appears on a mound of sand as a podium with the number 1.
The baritone is the last of the famous characters included in the mural, with a finger pointing directly at the viewer.
To close the mural, a baby symbolises that this list will have new protagonists yet to grow and be discovered. They join the many characters from the past who also deserve to be in this great Malaga fresco, which is why Idígoras has included a final caption that reads: "We already know that many are missing."
La Voz de Cádiz
El Diario Montañés
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