Inaugurated in 2015, the Pompidou Centre aka "El Cubo", has blossomed / sur

Pyrenean transfer

From museums to surfers with a French accent... how Malaga turned into a Franco-Spanish hotspot

GEORGINA OLIVER

In the running for the Goya Awards in just about every category - from Best Director to Mejor Actriz - a rural thriller entitled As Bestas spotlights the emergence of a "Nouvelle Movida", currently making waves all the way through to "Málaga Ciudad Genial".

Set in the wilds of the Galician Massif, with dialogues in French and Castilian as well as Galicia's officially acknowledged Gallego or Galego, Rodrigo Sorogoyen's mise-en-scène draws inspiration from a dramatic event that took place twelve years ago, when a real-life couple decided to forego a comfortable lifestyle in the Netherlands, and settle in a remote semi-abandoned village up in the hills.

A local wind-turbine conflict is at the heart of this Gallo-Iberian co-production, which - one cinematographic reference leading to another - prompted me to plug into Malaga's "French Connection(s)"; not unlike Marseille, Picasso's place of birth is a multimedia mecca: on the pulse of present artistic developments, with Phoenician roots and a window on Africa.

Picasso link

The "Franco-Malagueño" hero par excellence, Pablo Picasso, shares Malaga superstar status with Hollywood/Almodóvar actor/film and theatre director Antonio (Zorro/Picasso) Banderas, also born here.

2023 marks the 20th anniversary of Museo Picasso Málaga; MPM has attracted over eight million visitors since it was founded in October 2003, and two major tributes to the king of 20th century art are on course; the first (Picasso: Matter and Body) opens next May, continuing until the following September, when it will travel to Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum, making way for the second (conceived by French curator and critic Eric Troncy); as its title suggests, The Echo of Picasso will highlight the grand maestro's influence on contemporary art.

Pompidou too

Inaugurated in 2015, the Pompidou Centre aka "El Cubo", has blossomed, becoming an international tourist attraction – Malaga's "Eiffel Tower"; its already once renewed a five-year contract with its Paris "casa madre" is valid until March 2025, but – "success oblige" – it's hard to imagine the Muelle Uno without this monument to cross-border museology, designed by France's flagship mainstreamer, Daniel Buren.

In addition to the main display of works belonging to the museum's permanent collection, there's always an export-quality offering in its more intimate temporary exhibition space. "De momento": Lucio Fontana, Recto-Verso – a show devoted to the "Spatialist" painter and sculptor (Rosario, Argentina, 1899 - Commabio, Italy, 1968) famous for his signature "slit" canvases invented in the City of Lights.

"Meanwhile, on the other side of town..." – within steps of the Soho gallery and artists' studio district, the CAC Centro de Arte Contemporáneo proposes a posthumous encounter with leading French conceptual artist, Christian Boltanski (1944-2021); best-known for his photographic installations focusing on the plight of Jewish families deported during the Occupation of his native Paris, Boltanski was included in Pompidou Malaga's initial inaugural overview.

NOT for the faint-hearted, the CAC installation consists of a "dark room" featuring a black floor and black walls decked with faceless/subject-less black pictures in black frames; visitors enter waving aside a black curtain; the only variations on the black theme are the constant sound of a human heartbeat and a naked halogen light bulb hanging from the ceiling, reminiscent of WWII interrogation scenes.

Café society

Nobody says "French lessons" in the "X-rated" sense of the expression anymore; however, what could be more exotic than to learn an extra language on the Costa del Sol? Formerly niched in the city's historical centre, now in a modern building close to the María Zambrano train station, the Alianza Francesa of Málaga (Calle Canales, 11) offers language courses for all levels of proficiency from beginner to future teacher, and hosts a variety of cultural events ranging from a monthly "café littéraire" to an annual French film fest.

Is it just an impression I get when strolling along the Paseo Marítimo, or are techie 30-40-something Frenchies working online from home (typically, a "pied-à-mer" on the seafront, a pebble's throw away from Pedregalejo's terrazas...) - many sending their chic T-shirted offspring to the Lycée Français International de Malaga (lfmalaga.com) - "trending" big time?

The presence of surfers with a French accent at El Chanquete Beach, connected to El Candado's Club Náutico, alerted me to this "possibilité". However, I don't have the post-Brexit stats to prove it; as might be expected, "les rosbifs" ("Frog" for "Brit") are still streets ahead of other nationalities thriving on the Costa. Maybe, my "Generation X-Y émigrés" are merely an "East End" trend - à la mode in and beyond the ever-voguish Baños del Carmen?