An Insider's Guide To Malaga - The Gloss Magazine

An Insider’s Guide To Malaga

If Dublin is a city of literature, Malaga must be a city of art – Dubliner and artist Pigsy is the current artist in residence in Malaga’s La Casa Amarilla Contemporary Art & Culture Centre, he shares his insider tips for visiting the city…

“Having spent a year in Malaga during the pandemic it is great to now be back in this fantastic city where I am working on a solo art exhibition, which opens on May 23. I’ve settled back into the city on my return – perhaps too easily, as it can be hard to get work done when there are many invites for long slow lunches with like-minded friends from the Malaga art scene where good conversation, tapas and cervezas flow!”

For art and culture: “Malaga is most definitely a city of art and culture and there are plenty of museums and art galleries to explore and inspire. I am currently living in the Soho area of Malaga which is considered the “arty” area and features really striking pieces of street art including a massive Shepherd Fairey mural (Paz y Libertad) which the artist created in 2013 when he was invited to Malaga by the CAC Malaga and Maus (Malaga Arte Urbano Soho). It’s worth heading to Soho to walk the area and take in all of the great street art, not just Fairey’s. Close by to Soho is the CAC which is the Modern Art Museum of note and presents emerging international and Spanish artists. This is a great space (the building was originally a wholesaler’s market) which allows for some really striking art installations being shown.

Of course, being the birthplace of Picasso, there is not just one Picasso museum dedicated to the master but also a second one based in the house that Picasso was born in and both are worth putting on your must-see list, along with others like the Carmen Thyssen.

Many of the art galleries offer free visits on Sundays after 5pm which is a good opportunity to visit exhibitions and then take in a second visit the week after if you feel the need to return! Recently I visited the Pompidou Centre Malaga (above) where I saw artworks by David Hockney, Marc Chagall, Gerhard Richter and one of my favourites, and current inspirations, Joan Mitchell. As a former architect, the piece that most fascinated me was Shiguru Ban’s cardboard house which he designed to pay homage to the victims of humanitarian crises. I had studied Ban’s Cardboard Church in the past so I really enjoyed seeing this piece in situ.

Where to dine: “For casual tapas, I like to visit Uvedoble where I sit at the counter and order a tapas of octopus noodles and Costiila Deshuado with a caña of beer. Many of the dishes are also available as full portions or half portions, but I rather get small tapas so I can taste as many dishes as possible and I can continue ordering as I like.

“For casual Mexican food, my place of choice is Tulum which offers a very reasonably priced menu where the chef will prepare some tacos, quesadilla and burrito. It’s a great way of tasting something that you may not consider ordering – and they do ask if you would like it spicy or not!”

Out and about: “Getting around Malaga is easy as it is so walkable (many of the main streets are pedestrianised) and it has great connectivity to the airport with both bus and train available into the city. Bikes are easily rented in the city; I tend to bike to most places on my fold up Brompton which I brought from Ireland in a hard case. My wife Enid and I cycle to the beach every morning for an early morning swim which gets us going for the day ahead. Enid bought her bike here in Malaga from Greg in Recyclo bike shop which handily also has a great cafe attached to it which serves tasty food and good coffee.

“As well as going to places by bike, we also take the public bus which costs less than 50c per trip when you buy a bus card. Pedregalejo and El Palo are two small fishing villages near Malaga and are accessible by bus that takes a nice route along the coast. They are both scenic places to have a lunch of Espetos (skewered sardines) cooked over open fires in beach side chiringuitos.

“In Malaga, there is a traditional market practically in the city centre which showcases the best of traditional Malaga food – I like to take a wander through the market and sample the offerings of cheese and olive oil tastings while shopping for fish or meat for dinner. Muelleuno is the marina which is great for a stroll along and while here you can either people watch or even better yacht watch with generally the most amazing super yachts berthed in this Marina.

Another activity to do while in the city is to go see a play or a musical in actor Antonio Banderas’ (who is from Malaga too!) Soho Theatre. Recently I went to the symphony in the Teatro Cervantes which was really special. It’s a stunning venue with a glorious oil painting by Bernard Ferrandiz on the ceiling of the theatre, and tickets can be bought at a surprisingly reasonable cost considering the marvellous setting – I highly recommend it.

There are Roman ruins in the centre of the city in the shadow of the Alcazaba (the citadel above the city), and I think the best way to view them is to go up the sloped walkway intervention designed by Malaga architects Iñaki Pérez de la Fuente and Cristina Garcia Baeza. There are awesome views from here and it can be quieter than other viewing points. The architecture is spot on: I am a big fan of OAM Architects work.”

Cathedral: It’s hard to go anywhere in Malaga without being in the shadow of the cathedral, and with its single tower it is currently referred to as the La Manquita which translates to the “one armed lady”, but there are now funds in place to complete the second tower. As well as the cathedral, there are churches all over Malaga in all different shapes and sizes with many of my favourites being the older traditional ones, however I also like the modernist 1964 design of José Maria Garcia de Paredes who built the Stella Maris Church in Soho. For moments of solitude I like to slip in to a church near my studio and in fact my last solo exhibition in Malaga I Went to Mass” was inspired by visits to these churches and explored themes of seeking calm and solitude in the time of chaos during the pandemic.”

Where to stay: When choosing which hotel to stay in, when in Malaga, it is all about the rooftop terraces where you can enjoy the view and a sundowner cocktail before dinner. The Marriot AC Hotel Malaga Palacio is excellently located at the bottom of the main thoroughfare Calle Larios with phenomenal views of the port.

One of the newest hotels in town is the H10 Croma Malaga which is located towards the old river bed that has now been changed into a public park. The H10 rooftop bar again has an incredible city view but reservations are definitely needed for this popular rooftop venue.

If you are looking for something upscale and closer to the beach, it has to be the Gran Miramar Hotel which exudes old world charm and has a large pool to relax by. Located in a quieter part of town, it has its own restaurant for dining, or in a matter of minutes you can walk to one of my favourite restaurants which is Aire near Paseo de Redding.

The Miramar is also located in the vicinity of the traditional bullring which generally has a good exhibition on or different concerts and events. It’s nice to take a stroll in if you are in the area to see what is on view. The exhibition space is small but due to the circular nature of the bullring it gives a nice aspect to most of the exhibitions on display. Close to the bullring is another of my favourite restaurants El Refectorium serving Malaga specialities such as Malaga anchovies or Gallician clams in their own very special way.

An alternative to staying in a hotel is to book an Airbnb where you can live like a local and wake up to a breakfast of a pitufo and a cafe solo in one of the many cafeterias in the city, or, if you are looking for something sweeter, a churro and a hot chocolate. I recommend Casa Aranda which has been serving up these treats to Malaguenos since the 1930s. My art studio is located opposite Casa Aranda so it is hard to resist temptation as the smell of the freshly fried churros wafts in to my studio!

The Malaguenos! Apart from all of the great things to do, it is the people of Malaga (the Malaguenos) who make this city. Everywhere I go I’ve met the friendliest people who engage with me and about my art. I’ve been really welcomed into the “art family” of La Casa Amarilla by all of the artists in their fold, but especially by Gallery Founder and Director David Burbano and Artistic Director Roy Laguna. They have been so patient with me as I have attempted to communicate my art with them through my beginner Spanish and I have found it so inspiring to work alongside them. It’s a huge honour to have these two creatives curate my solo exhibition “First Things Last” in the Studios of La Casa Amarilla. La Casa Amarilla Contemporary Art & Cultural centre has been at the heart of cutting edge Spanish art for over 15 years in the city of Malaga; David and Roy were recently honoured by the Ateneo de Malaga in recognition for all of the work that have done at LCA in revolutionizsng the Malaga Art Scene. Their new location on Calle Carreteria is a must-visit.

First Things Last: My upcoming exhibition “First Things Last”, which will be presented in the studio space as the culmination of my art residency there, will consist of works that examine the theme of “Interlocked” and how seemingly unrelated things are connected. The title comes from a variation on a quote in the Quentin Tarantino movie Reservoir Dogs, and for me “First Things Last” explains the concept for this art residency and the central importance of the creation of art during the period in residency.

In effect, I start out with a blank white canvas and then move on to the production stage where I paint on the canvas. The next part of the process is to show the work created in the exhibition, at the end of the residency. However, this is not the end for the works of art as the very next day after the exhibition finishes on Saturday, I will be painting over all of the works that have not sold or been reserved during the exhibition. I will be re-painting them white which will bring me (lastly) back to the first part of the process. It is a circular process, and it is literally, First Things Last.

By attending the exhibition over the over days you can literally be both the first and the last to see the artworks before they revert to the way they started as white blank canvas.”

Need to know: ”First Things Last” exhibition by PIGSY opens on Friday May 24 in Studios of La Casa Amarilla Art & Cultural Centre, Calle Santo, Malaga. To find out more about PIGSY’s art and follow his travels on his blog, see


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