Centre Pompidou – Málaga’s newest artistic masterpiece

Entrance to the Centre Pompidou, Malaga

Málaga is leading the way with a new concept dubbed the “Pop-up Pompidou”, where the general public is offered a selection of around 90 masterpieces from the famous Centre Pompidou’s collection.

Becoming the first outside of France, the Centre Pompidou, Málaga will initially be a city feature for five years, but with an option to extend for a further five years.

The museum also features a programme of exhibitions and workshops aimed at families and younger audiences, making today’s art accessible to the widest possible audience.

Centre Pompidou, Malaga - inside out

We’ve become used to seeing the steel and glass cube (El Cubo) at one end of Muelle Uno (Quay 1), Málaga’s new port and shopping area. What was unclear until now, was that this cube was really a skylight, casting it’s sunlit magic into what has now become the cavernous museum below.

New-look Pompidou Centre, Malaga

Sporting a new look, El Cubo has itself become a piece of art, adorned with coloured panels by artist Daniel Buren, entitled “Incubé”.

I was fortunate to be one of the first people to visit the new Centre Pompidou, Málaga during it’s opening weekend, at the end of March 2015.

Entrance to the Centre Pompidou, Malaga

After entering the Centre Pompidou, the stairs lead you down to the surprisingly large exhibition space inside, where you are taken on a journey through “The Collection”, featuring art of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The works on “human representation” are divided into five galleries, some larger and some smaller, exploring such themes as “Metamophoses”, “Self-Portraits”, “The Man without a Face”, “The Political Body” and “The Body in Pieces”.

Within each gallery the art is represented in the form of sculptures, paintings, installations, films and videos.

Displayed on the walls through the museum are works by Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Georg Baselitz, Joan Miró, Francis Bacon, Antoni Tàpies, Max Ernst, Marc Chagall, Constantin Brancusi and many others.

Ghost by Kader Attia at Centre Pompidou, Malaga

Centre Pompidou, Malaga

Without a doubt, my favourite piece was within the “The Body in Pieces” gallery, by Algerian artist, Kader Attia. “Ghost” is an installation of more than 140 hollow figures, kneeling in straight rows and all facing in the same direction. Each empty figure is made entirely of aluminum foil and alludes to be an anonymous Middle Eastern woman, covered from head to toe by her chador, bowed in prayer.

Ghost by Kader Attia at Centre Pompidou, Malaga

These fragile forms convey a powerful statement.

The installation could be described as vaguely sinister, yet I felt myself both respecting the figures’ privacy of worship, as well as being curiously drawn to inspect the hollow shells further.

 Interactive art at Centre Pompidou, Malaga

I was able to seize the opportunity to become part of two of the interactive exhibits – the first, unknowingly, as I queued with the crowd outside the entrance to the museum, where the moving image is displayed on a wall inside, as a piece of art.

Hidden Faces at Centre Pompidou, Malaga

Later, in “The Man Without A Face” gallery I was encouraged to become an “anonymous witness” by hiding behind a white mask to observe how other visitors react to the artworks (and to me hiding behind the mask!)

Two or three temporary exhibitions are scheduled each year at the Centre Pompidou, Málaga. There is a cafe, auditorium and children’s inter-active play area.

Leaflets are available at the entrance (in several languages, including Spanish and English) suggesting various self-guided routes through the exhibits, depending on the amount of time you have available.

OPENING HOURS:

16th June to 15th September: 11.00am to 10.00pm
16th September to 15th June: 9.30am to 8.00pm

Closed on Tuesdays, January 1st and December 25th.

ENTRY FEES:

Permanent collection: €7, concessions €4
Temporary exhibition: €4, concessions €2.50
Permanent collection + temporary exhibition: €9, concessions €5.50

MY INSIDER TIP: FREE ENTRY after 4pm every Sunday 

WEBSITE: centrepompidou-malaga.es

Malaga: Orange Blossom, Incense and Art

Orange blossom in Andalucia

It’s an exciting time to be in Málaga.

To add to the heavenly scent of the orange blossom (also known as “azahar”), this weekend sees the beginning of Holy Week – with incense wafting into the heady mix.

Easter week in Malaga, Spain

Easter week in Malaga, Spain

Easter week in Malaga, Spain

Semana Santa features seven days of religious passion and spectacle – not only in Málaga city, of course, but in every town and small village throughout Andalucía.

Plus, one of Málaga’s famous sons returns each year to take part –YES, ladies, Antonio Banderas is in town!

Málaga already has a well established art scene with its Picasso museum, Contemporary Art Centre and Baroness Carmen Thyssen museum, but this week has seen the city’s credentials as an Art Hub extending further, with the opening of the Russian State Art Museum from St. Petersburg.

The Russian museum is housed in the beautifully restored Tobacco factory (Tabacalera) to the west of the city centre, near to the already popular Automobile Museum.

And today, Málaga extends it’s cultural connections still further, with the opening of the Málaga branch of the Pompidou Centre – the first outside of France.

Dubbed the Pop-Up Pompidou, the museum is housed underneath El Cubo, a huge glass cube in Muelle Uno – the city’s fabulous port area.

Which museum will YOU visit first?

 

The Lost Village of El Acebuchal

El Acebuchal, Spain

El Acebuchal isn’t so much a village as a 17th century hamlet within the unspoilt mountains and natural park of Sierra Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama.

Situated close to the border of the provinces of Granada and Málaga and coming under the control of Cómpeta, El Acebuchal is actually nearer to Frigiliana in terms of distance – yet a world away from the hoards of holiday-makers visiting the Costa del Sol.

The name comes from the Arabic “acebuche” meaning olive, and even though we know of its existence since 17th century, it is thought to have been inhabited long before then.

Mules in El Acebuchal

El Acebuchal was an important staging post on the ancient mule-trading routes between Competa, Frigiliana, Nerja and the inland city of Granada.

Fresh fish caught on the coast and locally grown crops including tomatoes and raisins were traded for chickpeas, wheat, lentils and other goods not easily available in the nearby mountains.

Life was hard for the inhabitants, as it was in most of rural Andalucía, but became even more difficult when they were caught between the Franco regime and guerrillas in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. Authorities had long suspected the villagers of supporting Republican rebels hiding out in the mountains, by providing them with food and refuge. In truth, the villagers were literally caught in the crossfire, and hassled from both sides.

In the summer of 1948, the villagers paid a heavy price for their isolated location in the mountains when the Guardia Civil ordered that El Acebuchal be cleared of its 200 inhabitants, who were forced to flee, leaving behind their homes, belongings and livestock.

The abandoned mountain hamlet soon fell into disrepair and eventually into ruins, becoming known locally as “The Lost Village” or “Pueblo el Fantasmas” – The Village of Ghosts.

Casa Antonio, El Acebuchal

Antonio's initials in stone = El Acebuchal

Fifty years later in 1998, Antonio García Sánchez, son of one of the original villagers, returned with his wife, Virtudes and family to restore a couple of houses in the village. Once these were completed, they rebuilt a further five houses and the tavern when they noticed an increase of rural tourism in the area.

People were starting to return to El Acebuchal.

This family’s adventure became contagious as other former residents turned their attention back to their old family homes to begin their restoration, so that today, all 36 houses, the chapel, tavern and cobblestone streets have been returned to how they once were.

If you head to El Acebuchal and discover the tavern during the morning, you will probably find Antonio and some of his family gathered on the shady terrace opposite, performing some of their duties.  The tavern restaurant serves dishes appropriate for the mountain environment: choto (kid), lamb, wild boar, rabbit and venison, with delicious home-made cakes and bread.

Inside Bar El Acebuchal

Inside Bar El Acebuchal

Step inside the tavern and you will find the walls proudly lined with old photos of El Acebuchal and its former residents.  Whenever I visit, I always find myself lingering a while, trying to imagine what life must have been like for these people.

With only a handful of permanent residents, most people you see around the streets are visitors, hikers or holidaymakers staying in one of the village rental properties.

El Acebuchal

The countryside near to the isolated hamlet is almost deserted except for the crumbling ruins of long-abandoned cortijos.  There are plunging ravines, tinkling streams, mountain slopes covered with pine trees and the rocky crags of the mountain tops reaching up to the blue skies above.

This area is ideal for visitors who want to get away from it all …. and you can certainly do that in El Acebuchal as there is no telephone reception, no shops, credit cards or internet.

Rural tourism has breathed life back into the village which has risen like a phoenix from the ashes. 

How to get there:

There are main two routes to El Acebuchal.  You can get there from the Cómpeta-Torrox road (A7207), where you turn off near to the Km 8 road marker. Follow the direction signs for El Acebuchal.   Here you will face a 6.5 kilometre un-made mountain track to the village.  It’s not for the faint-hearted as there are no barriers, but it’s certainly drivable – and you don’t need a 4-wheel drive to do it.  Along the way you will drive through a stream and see spectacular scenery.  It’s quite an adventure!

Alternatively, the more popular and shorter route is from the village of Frigiliana.  Take the scenic back-road towards Torrox, and after two kilometres you will see the turn-off sign to Acebuchal on your right.   This road is asphalted – except for an easy 1500 metre section near to the village.

Tell me – would YOU dare to drive along an unmade mountain track with no barriers?

Málaga Feria: They’ll be Dancing in the Street

Fireworks to start the Malaga feria

Fireworks to start the Malaga feria  [Image credit: Manolo Gómez Flickr CC]

Even the smallest village here in Andalucía has it’s own fiesta or feria, but today sees the final day of the BIGGEST PARTY OF ALL (well, around these parts at least) – the Málaga Feria!   

Held every year during August to commemorate the reclaiming of the city from the Moors by the Catholic Monarchs (Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon) on 18th August 1487, the Málaga feria is one of the largest fairs in Spain with millions of people joining the fun throughout the week.

Many daytime activities take place on the main shopping street – Calle Marques de Larios, Picasso’s birth-place – Plaza de la Merced and throughout the historic centre of the city from noon until  around 8pm each day.  There are open-air bars to tempt passers-by with sherry, delicious sweet Málaga wine and tapas while the sound of music fills the air.

Many people dress in traditional costume and spontaneous demonstrations of flamenco dancing often break out in the street.  

Yesterday, it was a joy to wander around the city, soaking up the party atmosphere before heading to the Bodega Bar El Pimpi for a spot of lunch.  El Pimpi seems to get bigger and bigger every time I go, with it’s warren of rooms and outdoor terraces, which were all packed with feria-goers.  The inside walls of the bar are decorated with photographs of famous visitors and historic posters of ferias past.  You can also see the enormous barrels signed by some celebrity patrons including former UK prime minister, Tony Blair and, one of Málaga’s famous sons, film-actor Antonio Banderas.

Tradition then dictates a short siesta before heading to the outskirts of the city (next to the Palacio de Congresos building, near the airport) for La Feria de la Noche (the night fair), which starts very slowly around ten in the evening and continues all night, until the break of dawn.

Here you will find hundreds of marquees (known as casetas) scattered throughout the fairground where you can enjoy more drinks and food, whilst dancing to the sound of both modern and flamenco music.

And, if like me, you LOVE fairground rides, then you can be flung here, there and everywhere on some wild, mechanical rides or take a gentle journey on the huge ferris wheel, for great views across the feria.

There are shuttle buses throughout the night from city centre to the fairground.

 Would you like to join in the party next year?