A visitor at the Picasso museum in Malaga. :S. SALAS

An arty summer in a city full of galleries

The capital of the Costa del Sol offers a thriving and rapidly growing clutch of galleries, museums and cultural spaces

TONY BRYANT

Malaga is a vibrant city crammed with cultural spaces, museums and art galleries, an ideal outing, then, for those looking for cultural activity closer to home again this summer.

The capital of the Costa del Sol offers a thriving and rapidly growing clutch of artistic attractions, especially in areas like Soho, a chic artistic neighbourhood that was once an important bourgeois area with beautiful mansions and palaces. Located behind the CAC (Contemporary Art Centre), just south of the Alameda, this popular neighbourhood boasts some of the best street art in Malaga.

CAC Málaga, located in the old wholesale market building, is the point of reference for lovers of modern art. It offers permanent exhibitions by local artists, plus regular temporary shows, with names such as Louise Bourgeois, Thomas Hirschhorn, Damian Hirst or Julian Opie being among past guest exhibitors.

Sculptures

The main space in the gallery is currently taken up by Franz West. Last Decades, a collection of sculptures by the Austrian artist who died in 2012. These 35 pieces on loan from private collections can be seen at CAC Málaga until 29 Auugust.

Also at CAC is La Mirada Inconcreta, a collection made up of photographs highlighting elements like architecture, landscapes and the people of Malaga. This show runs until 3 October and features 42 pictures taken by 17 national and international photographers over the last 40 years.

The most recent inauguration is The Silence of Eternity, an exhibition by Canadian Don Bergland, a surrealist artist who constructs his artwork like theatrical presentations. This is the artist's first European exhibition and it includes 50 works with themes such as time, ageing, nostalgia and the search for eutopia. These can be seen until 12 September.

World renowned museums

Malaga has established itself deep within the cultural sphere over the past ten years and the city has harvested - at a cost of around 100 million euros - a range of world-renowned museums.

A 20-minute stroll from the contemporary art centre will lead to the State Museum of Russian Art of St Petersburg (known locally as the Russian Museum), located in an old cigarette factory (La Tabacalera).

Horror of war

This year's annual exhibition at the Russian Museum is War and Peace in Russian Art, which can be viewed until next April. It is made up of 180 works that together present a vibrant journey through the history of Russia guided by the horror of war. The common thread of the exhibition is the title of the novel by Leo Tolstoy, who also stars in one of the current temporary shows. Leo Tolstoy - The Path of Life is an exhibition made up of 39 pictorial pieces, graphics and sculptures based on one of the most notable literary works of universal culture.

The Russian Museum's second temporary exhibition is Iván Aivazovsky and the Marinist Painters in Russia, a selection of maritime masterpieces by the painter and sailor, Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky, which offers a journey through the different representations of water, sea and the ocean.

Both temporary exhibitions can be viewed until 12 December.

Fine art and archaeology

The Malaga Museum, housed in the luxurious Palacio de la Aduana, exhibits over 2,000 pieces of fine art, and a collection of over 15,000 archaeological artefacts discovered during various excavations that have occurred in the province. The museum is currently hosting a temporary exhibition in tribute to Malaga painter Eugenio Chicano, who died in 2019. Eugenio Chicano, Siempre brings together more than 50 paintings - many of which are from the artist's private collection - along with others on loan from the Picasso Museum and the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts.

Lovers of Picasso will discover Spain's largest collection of his work in the Palacio de Buenavista, the 18th century palace that houses more than 200 drawings, paintings, sculptures and ceramics from the different periods of Picasso's life.

The Picasso Museum is currently exhibiting Metamorphosis, 100 works by artist Miquel Barceló. The exhibition (until 26 September) takes its name from the 1915 novel by Franz Kafka and includes a collection of ceramics, oil paintings and watercolours, small sculptures and travel note books, along with seven bronze statues that have been installed on the central courtyard of the museum.

Birthplace of Picasso

A short walk from the Buenavista Palace will lead to the Picasso Birthplace Museum in Plaza de Merced, which has been an official heritage site since 1983. Along with a collection of works and personal belongings of the artist and his family, this small museum offers an insight into Picasso's connection with his childhood, his origins and his land.

Located in the Palacio de Villalón, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum houses a vast art collection of work that pays special attention to 18th and 19th century Andalusian artists. The museum is currently hosting two temporary exhibitions.

Piranese. A Visionary's Prints presents a collection of prints produced by 18th century Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi. The artist earned a reputation as the best visual chronicler of Rome with his scenic views combining the baroque city with the urban landscape of ancient monumental ruins. The exhibition can be visited until 25 July.

To celebrate the museum's tenth anniversary, the Thyssen Museum is also offering an exhibition under the title of Pintar la Luz - Catalan Masters of the Carmen Thyssen Collection. Gathered from the baroness's private collection, the exposition includes paintings, drawings and sculptures produced by a group of 19th and 20th century Catalan masters.

Feminist abstract art

However, a cultural trip around the galleries and museums of Malaga would not be complete without a trip to the Centro Pompidou Malaga. Along with a semi-permanent collection of works by artists such as Picasso, Francis Bacon, Giacometti, Frida Kahlo, and Kandinsky, the centre known as the Cube is currently offering a temporary collection (until 23 August) titled El Arte Abstracto en Femenino. The collection focuses on the contribution of female abstract artists with more than 500 works produced from 1860 to 1980.

Other interesting museums include the Museo Automovilístico de Malaga, a motor and fashion collection also located in the same building at the Russian Museum; the glass museum (Museo del Vidrio y Cristal); and El Museo Revello de Toro.

Due to the pandemic all museums, cultural spaces and galleries will have restricted capacity, and Covid protocol will have to be observed, including the wearing of face masks.