Different artwork is being exhibted at the CEOE House in Malaga city. / CLAUDIA SAN MARTÍN

Art in unexpected places

Hostels, restaurants and cafés in the centre of Malaga act as venues for local artists to showcase their works as an alternative to the city's big museums


At the same time as Malaga was making a name for itself as the city of museums, with such famous international names as Picasso, Thyssen and Pompidou, a network of alternative exhibition spaces was also being created to provide an outlet for local creators to display their work. They are delightful places, often bars, hostels and restaurants, and behind their doors there are examples of different artistic disciplines such as painting, sculpture, ceramics and much more.

These unexpected venues give emerging artists the chance to showcase their work, and one of the latest to open is COEO House in Calle Beatas, a new hostel with a very particular vision of art and an innovative concept compared with the traditional layout of accommodation. It was the brainchild of Niv Pulver, an Israeli who came to Malaga three years ago because he believed it was the perfect location to found the COEO community, a group of friends who value above all else "true and meaningful relationships" with others and with their surroundings.

In the communal rooms, which are large, light, spacious and full of life, the work of Malaga artist Patricia Paz is currently on display and takes on a whole new meaning.

People from all over the world pass through COEO every day and pause in the main hallway to observe the thick, colourful brushstrokes by this artist. Her cowboy-inspired portraits, with their 'naive' touch embellish with colour a space that houses original prints and acrylics on canvas, whose prices range from 40 to 600 euros. In addition, visitors are able to scan a QR code to access the list of works which Paz has for sale and buy them on the spot.

From September, a different style of art will hang on the walls each month. "Malaga has been the home of one of the finest artists in the world and we want to keep that tradition alive in our hostel, we want it to become known as a local art venue," explains Niv Pulver.

Although it may look like a space which is exclusively for people who are staying there, COEO welcomes anyone who wants to stop off, have a drink and see Paz's works, which will be on display at the hostel until 15 September.

Elsewhere on the route of unexpected museums, in Calle Carretería, we find La Vida de la Gente restaurant where Italian artist Alicia Valentini is showcasing her unusual form of art using resin.

Alicia, who came to Malaga five years ago, graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Verona after specialising in painting, but when the pandemic arrived and during the tedious days of lockdown, she began experimenting with a new material to revolutionise her way of seeing art.

Resin, acrylics and gold leaf are her most common working materials, with which she creates unique geometric pieces which perfectly imitate the roar of the waves of the sea. Her display changes every now and then, with new works being added as others are sold, and for the moment there is no end date for her exhibition.

Another home of art par excellence is El Último Mono, an alternative and ecological café whose walls display works by artists who are resident at La Casa Amarilla. In the series they have been running for two years, which they have called #OffYellow, creators have the chance to exhibit their works in the café for two months. There, they acquire visibility and, of course, the possibility of visitors buying their works.

Traditionally, and since it opened, La Polivalente has also been a home for art of any type: music, poetry, dance, theatre and, the form that concerns us in this case, exhibitions. The most recent, which will continue until the end of August, is by local artist Juan Sierra. It is a collection of drawings which this artist and tattooist has produced in the past few years and which he colours in vivid tones: realist portraits, landscapes and animals decorate this space, which is brimming with art in all its different forms.