The end of the flamenco invasion

Above and right, the mosaic just before and after its removal.
Above and right, the mosaic just before and after its removal. / Salvador Salas
  • Malaga's most emblematic work by the artist known as Invader has now been removed

  • The mosaic was installed on the Palacio Episcopal, a listed building, without permission and the artist may now face legal action

We gathered just before 9am at the junction of Calle Molino Lario and Calle Santa María, where metal scaffolding was being erected to the height of the dark-haired woman in a red flamenco dress, a mosaic which has become the most emblematic work in Malaga by the French artist known only as Invader.

The work of art caused controversy and it is possible that legal action could be taken against both the artist and the former director of the CAC contemporary art centre, Fernando Francés. Invader's flamenco dancer may be his most popular work in Malaga, but the Church authorities in Malaga complained to the regional government and city hall and demanded that it be removed, because the palace is classified as a Building of Cultural Interest (BIC) and the mosaic was installed without permission.

That was at the end of May 2017, and now the dancer has gone. She didn't make it easy for them. The technicians had to cover the mosaic with plastic to stop pieces falling off during the removal, then the edges were separated from the wall using spatulas, and finally two fine metal sheets were used to ease the mosaic away from the wall. It took several hours. Officers from the Guardia Civil's Seprona squad then kept it as evidence, as they had also done with two other mosaics by the French artist previously removed from council-owned property, the Astoria cinema and elsewhere in the Pasillo de Atocha.

Altogether, 29 of Invader's works have been placed around the city, half of them in the historic centre. Further legal action is likely for the ones on protected buildings. Fernando Francés insists he had nothing to do with the locations chosen for the works of art.