Some of Parr's images in the exhibition Malaga Express.

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Some of Parr's images in the exhibition Malaga Express. Migue Fernández
Art review

Parr-ty piece

British super-photographer Martin Parr soaks up the Costa spirit

Georgina Oliver


Friday, 22 September 2023, 15:52


Wham bam... Hang on a sec... Look again... Such is the perception process sparked by Martin Parr's instantly recognisable brighter-than-bright extra-sharp snaps focusing on everyday life in general and social quirks in particular.

Not to be missed at the onset of those - all-too-familiar - spirit-clouding post-summer holiday blues... a Parr photo-fiesta entitled Malaga Express is just the tonic, sure to lighten up that niggling 'party's over' feeling.

Within steps of the Parque de Malaga, the setting is eminently relaxing: a pristine white art space situated at the bottom of a stately patio featuring a central fountain and streamlined wooden benches; and the good news is that admission is free for EU citizens and residents / 1.50 euros for all others (at the Palacio de la Aduana, Travesía Pintor Nogales, 2 - until 15 October).

In a flash

Forever juggling between the international museum circuit, photo-journalism and advertising assignments, this lens-wizard has a magic touch. Before we know it, we are totally absorbed by his tongue-in-cheek visual essays documenting human behaviour and local customs, tourism and consumerism. On this occasion, for a project capturing the spirit of Malaga and its environs.

How does he do it? Highly-saturated Fuji-hues fish for our attention, drawing us into intriguing 'foodscapes', individual or group portraits - as it happens, shot with a flash even in broad daylight, but that's only part of the story.

Less striking than his 'signature' intensely vibrant colours, storytelling is Martin Parr's secret weapon. The frame, the pose, the composition (when it comes to objects) ... are in his mind's eye, offering a fresh take on Andalusian pop culture and the Spanish family-focused tapas 'n' copas lifestyle.

Far from obscure

A full member of the prestigious Magnum press photographers' cooperative since 1994, Martin Parr CBE is the antithesis of an obscure camera-wielder; a respected curator and university lecturer, he holds the Guinness World Record for staging Common Sense - the biggest solo photo-extravaganza ever: a positively dazzling consumer society-related exhibition viewed simultaneously at 'INXS' of 40 different venues across the planet, during the spring of 1999.

This Surrey-born, Manchester Polytechnic-trained septuagenarian prefers to let his books and images do the talking. The Aduana selection includes 'pix' of a handful of Malaga-based celebs (the mayor, an actor...). However, if "Martin the Flasher" has the choice between the VIP circle and his photographic objectives, he has no hesitation. He turned down umpteen maxi-commissions requesting him to cover the death of Queen Elizabeth II, in order to concentrate on his "Querrrida Costa".

"Parrworld" fans have a further thrill in store: a retrospective of their maestro's half-century mega-career, at the CAF (Centro Andaluz de Fotografía), in Almeria - also to be seen "hasta" 15 October.

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