File image. SUR
French urban artist 'Invader' misses start of mosaic trial in Malaga

French urban artist 'Invader' misses start of mosaic trial in Malaga

The former director of the city's CAC contemporary art centre attended, declared his innocence and dissociated himself from the artist's unauthorised 'invasion' of 15 protected buildings in the historic city centre

Francisco Griñán


Friday, 14 July 2023, 11:53


The French urban artist 'Invader', accused of defacing heritage sites after installing 15 mosaics on protected buildings in Malaga city has failed to appear in court.

The artist, who remains incognito, and the former cultural director of the city's CAC contemporary art centre Fernando Francés were set to appear in court on Wednesday 12 July to face allegations of defacing buildings protected as an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC).

These included the Salinas Palace and the Episcopal Palace, also protected as historic monuments. The artist, who claimed his authorship on his own website, has previously defended that he is not responsible for any possible damage to the buildings because he was informed everything was authorised.

The prosecutor Fernando Benítez, is asking for the artist and Francés to pay a fine of 36,500 euros each - with 50 euros to be paid per day for 24 months.

Francés, who did appear in court, told the judge that he had nothing to do with the artist's work. "I didn't know what he was going to do, where, when, how, or what... I had no knowledge whatsoever. And of course we didn't finance anything," he told the court.

Fernando Francés before the start of the trial.
Fernando Francés before the start of the trial. Migue Fernández

But the Guardia Civil claimed the former CAC director "was aware of the invasion", according to one of the officers involved in the investigation.

The events took place in 2017 between the nights of 19 and 21 May. Invader and his team placed 29 mosaics throughout Malaga city - 15 of them on the walls of buildings in the protected historic city centre.

Space Invader

The mosaics featured pictures such as a whale, a flowerpot or characters from the video game Space Invader. The pair are accused of doing it without the consent of the owners of the buildings, and causing damage to the facades, as stated by the Bishopric of Malaga, which denounced them after a mosaic was installed on the Episcopal Palace.

File image.
File image. SUR

The complaint sparked an investigation by the Guardia Civil and, finally, the Environmental Prosecutor's Office filed a complaint against Francés - the former director of the Contemporary Art Centre of Malaga (CAC) and former Secretary General of Cultural Innovation and Museums of the Andalusian regional government - who is considered to be the instigator of the events, and Invader as the perpetrator.

Paris meeting

Francés admitted that he went to Paris in 2015 to meet with the artist to propose an exhibition at the CAC Málaga, which he accepted, as well as a possible installation of his mosaics in the Soho neighbourhood as part of the MAUS programme that was held for four years between 2013 and 2016 and in which other urban artists such as Obey and D*Face participated.

The French artist travelled to Malaga a year later to get to know the city and the neighbourhood, but the project was the postponed to 2017, as shown by emails sent by staff of the CAC and the MAD Antequera museum, both managed by Fernando Francés's company.

In one of these letters, dated a week before the installation of the mosaics, Invader's team replied that the invasion - as he calls his performances - would soon arrive in Malaga.

But Francés told the court that he had no knowledge that Invader was going to Malaga city and that he did so "at his own risk" without any connection to any of the projects he was involved in, such as the one related to the MAUS programme, which included the installation of mosaics in buildings other than those that were finally chosen by the artist. The trial continues.

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