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Posts tagged ‘Málaga’

My travel sketchbook: One-armed lady

There was an awful lot I could have sketched when I was recently in Malaga. It wasn’t just that I was inspired to paint the landscape interpretation I went on to create shortly after our return, but I also felt the need to flip open my sketchbook and capture the captivating elements of the city. And I didn’t need to look much further than the view from my hotel, the Molina Lario, to find inspiration.

For the rooftop of the hotel is easily its best attraction. With a little pool and poolside bar, the roof allows you to splash around to your heart’s content with the most stunning city view as your backdrop. In fact the view had inspired me before, when last year I created a mixed-technique etching and woodcut print of the view. But not content with that, I decided to return to the same inspiration, focusing in on Malaga’s famously unfinished single-towered cathedral for inspiration. And here is the result. The latest page of my travel sketchbook, all with pen.

Malaga Cathedral, detail (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Malaga Cathedral, detail (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at

Interpretation No. 15 – Malaga

The week ends as it begun, with the introduction of another of my new little paintings, created comparatively quickly (that is, in relation to my oil works) with gouache on paper, and inspired by another stunning landscape of the Mediterranean. As with the other works in my collection of “interpretations” which began back last summer on the Amalfi Coast, my landscape of Malaga attempts to simplify the forms of the landscape by stripping out many of the architectural details, while using flat areas of colour to delineate architectural forms and their contrast with the haphazard lines of nature around them.

Interpretation No. 15 - Malaga (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

Interpretation No. 15 – Malaga (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

My photos on Wednesday will hopefully help to persuade you as to why the southernmost large Spanish city of Malaga should have brought out the artist within me, and in creating this 15th interpretative landscape, I have attempted to catch the city at one of its most alluring times, when the sun has set to create a golden backdrop to the diverse architectural shapes of the city: from the baroque majesty of the “one-armed lady” (the cathedral) to the simplified robust walls of the ancient moorish Alcazaba palace.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at

Musings on Málaga: Southernmost City

The beautiful city of Malaga in Southern Spain is not only the 6th largest city in Spain, but also the southernmost large city in Europe. Located alongside the sparkling Mediterranean sea just south of the sun-roasted mountain plains of Andalucia, Malaga is an ancient city whose streets, style and very essence seem to reflect the baking heat of this most southern of European suns. And while its beating heart may run volcanically hot, the city has recently shown itself to be a hot pick for visitors too, boasting some of the best historical sights and cultural highlights in all of Spain.

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Its ancient historical centre is crowned by a magnificent cathedral, unique thanks to its unfinished second tower which has led the monument to become known as “the one-armed lady”. Its eastern hills are topped by the even older Castle of Gibralfaro and the Alcazaba fortress, a potent reminder of the region’s moorish heritage, heavily reminiscent of similar treasures in nearby Granada and Seville. Its newly renovated port and seaside front-line is fringed by stunning botanical gardens which sway gently alongside baroque palaces. And amongst its fantastic collection of impressive museums, the city can count the Picasso Museum, the Carmen Thyssen Museum, the new Russian Museum, the CAC Málaga Contemporary Art Museum and the recently opened Pompidou Centre Málaga amongst its collection. 

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it was largely because of the opening of this new branch of Paris’ Pompidou Centre that I strayed back to Malaga this month as part of my annual trip to my family home in Marbella, the smaller seaside town nestling on Malaga’s infamous Costa del Sol. Not only was I desperate to see the new Pompidou, but equally attracted by a temporary exhibition of Louise Bourgeois at the Picasso Museum and an exhibition of Summer-inspired works at the Thyssen. While I could easily fill this post with my reactions from those shows, I decided instead to be more visual in expressing my Malaga experience by sharing a few of the photos I took in the city. There aren’t many mind you… we were there only 24 hours after all, much of which was spent within art galleries. But I think this little collection pretty much sums up the heat, the colour and the spirit of this southernmost city.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved.

Málaga | Part 3 – Photographic Miscellany

Oh vivid Málaga, city of Mediterranean light, upon whose sandy shores the sun shines bright, casting its yellow glow across fading evening skies, and in paint on the facades of its insuperably elegant streets. Málaga is a city upon which the embrace of nature has not been scared off by the growth of civilisation; as abundant botanic gardens overhang paths perfect for strolling, and the sea air wafts into the hot shopping streets. It is a city where both big and small co-exist in perfect harmony: the vast one-armed cathedral and the tiny new pink growths of a tropical baby plant; the large public plazas and the tiny winding streets of the city’s oldest district. And like so many of Spain’s great cities, Málaga is another whose buildings have been sprinkled with the wand of architectural elegance, as the glass plated balconies and curled wrought iron details of the Modernista era have found their place so comfortably in this most Southern of cities, offsetting 1920s western refinement against the robust remains of the Moorish East.

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Málaga is a city so rich in photographic inspiration that in a mere 24 hours in the city, I managed to capture some 500 shots on my camera. Don’t worry – I’m not planning to bore you with them all here, but below are 33 of my favourites: From graceful street lamps and multi-coloured facades, to tranquil moorish gardens and the paper lanterns of a small street fiesta – here are my memories of Málaga on camera.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2013 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.  

Málaga | Part 2 – The Jungle and the Genius

It is said that Henri Rousseau, the post-impressionist famous for painting lush jungle scenes complete with hunting lions, terrified tigers and monkeys feasting off tropical fruits, never actually went to the jungle. Rather he took his inspiration from the plentiful species of tropical plants kept in greenhouses at the Jardins des Plantes in Paris. Yet had Rousseau travelled a little further south, to his neighbouring Spain and down to the Mediterranean city of Málaga, he might have stumbled there upon a jungle paradise so profuse in its verdant abundance despite being located right at the heart of the urban city, that he might truly have considered himself to have entered Amazonia.

Yes, my thoughts could not help but stray to Rousseau, one of my favourite of all artists, as we strolled – my partner and I – through Málaga’s impressive centre at the start of our second day in the city, discovering there this inexhaustible cornucopia of botanical ravishment running alongside the port on one side, and the city’s main artery – the aptly named Paseo del Parque – on the other. So profuse in their scale and variety, palms and flowers, ferns and fronts burst from flower beds like an unplanned jungle paradise, with rich coloured leaves glowing red and pink and a vibrant lime green against the morning sunshine, while winding paths cutting through overhanging boughs and under a shelter of richly layered leafy canopy made for a walk which was both tranquil and invigorating.

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I could go on about that park all day, and I could show you so many more photos of the rich variety of plant life than I have featured on this page. Needless to say, the park – a free-to-access world of botanical discovery – is but one further feature which makes a visit to Málaga such a satisfying experience. For beyond the impressive galleries, the museums and the imposing cathedral lies a city whose natural landscape benefits from a glittering coastline, a wide sandy beach and a flashy new marina, as well as a backdrop of undulating mountains and a city centre bursting with plant life. And beyond the greenery, a city of elegant narrow winding streets and broad boulevards lined with shiny marble pavements has developed, with large squares and shops, cafes and restaurants to rival any of Spain’s more prominent cities.

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But there’s no denying that for all the history, the seaside location and the jungle which so entranced me, Málaga is perhaps best known for being the birthplace of perhaps the most famous artist of all times – the breaker of faces, father of cubism and all round genius Pablo Picasso. And unsurprisingly, the city’s superb Museo Picasso Málaga remains the number one attraction of the city. Located a mere block away from the cathedral, the museum is located in a former palace which has been so sympathetically but innovatively modernised to house the museum that I love visiting just to see the building alone. With its all white walls, preserved moorish ceilings, and groups of precisely aligned red geraniums all housed in black ceramic pots, it is the height of architectural chic, and the perfect backdrop to Picasso’s multi-coloured works.

The chic gardens of the Museo Picasso Málaga

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Although I must have been to the museum at least 3 times before, I could not resist returning on this trip to Málaga, not only to indulge in the beauty of the museum’s surrounds, but also to enjoy the temporary shows which have been organised in celebration of the museum’s 10th anniversary. The first was an exhibition dedicated to Picasso’s depiction of family – a show which proved to be comprehensive in scale and offered an expansive view across the whole of Picasso’s career, as his depictions of family and friends remained a consistently prominent theme running throughout his art, but one which became subjected to his ever changing styles, from fine art figuration, to cubism, from blue period to pink, and finally to the fragmented faces and naive representation for which Picasso is now most famous.

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The second temporary exhibition had very little to do with Picasso at all – rather concentrating on the actor come photographer come artist come director Dennis Hopper, who made for a superbly curated, dynamic show which explored not just the persona of Hopper but also the time in which he lived through photographs of 60s America, through his association with revolutionary artists such as Andy Warhol and David Hockney, and through his collection and contribution to the pop art movement. A brilliant show and demonstration that the Picasso museum is not just a one-trick pony, but an important contributor to Málaga’s dynamic cultural landscape.

Dennis Hopper by Andy Warhol

Dennis Hopper by Andy Warhol

But what with the culture, the ever beckoning elegant streets, the vast parks and the long seaside paseos, the Picasso Museum pretty much marked the end of the road for us, as our feet throbbed and our energies became exhausted in the hot August heat. For only 40 minutes away by bus, Marbella again awaited, amid promises of lazy beach days, of mint tea in the garden under the perfumed jasmine tree, of painting in the afternoons and long seaside coffees in the morning, and of a little old town house which, for its proximity to the stunning city of Málaga alone, I feel very lucky to call home.

Málaga | Part 1 – Capital of Culture

Whether it’s because the city was recently working towards a bid for European Capital of Culture (which disappointingly, was won instead by San Sebastian in Spain’s North – not entirely sure why), or just because it was sick of being forever overshadowed by the glitz and glamour of Marbella to the West, and the popularity of tourist spots such as Nerja and Granada to the East, Málaga – the 6th biggest city in Spain and the most southern large city in Europe – has certainly upped its game of late. Following on from the introduction of the phenomenal Picasso museum a decade ago (Málaga is the artist’s birth-town), the city has gone on leaps and bounds to develop its cultural and leisure landscape, making it easily one of the most enriching and enjoyable places to visit in Southern Spain.

Asides from the Picasso Museum and a host of other novel museums dedicated to the likes of Flamenco, bull fighting and Semana Santa, Málaga also boasts two major archaeological treasures – the Moorish Alcazaba, whose walls crown one of the prominent hills encircling the city, and an excavated Roman Theatre. Its wide sandy beach is now accompanied by a brand new leisure port, following a huge reconstruction of the area in which an industrial marina has been transformed into a glitzy promenade boasting glass fronted boutiques and restaurants and a palm-lined avenue. And as for its art scene – well it’s alive and kicking, with the CAC Contemporary Art Museum showing some of the most prominent artists of the contemporary art world, and the latest and most exciting addition of all: the new Carmen Thyssen museum, an outpost of the world-famous Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum which is one of the “big three” art galleries (together with the Prado and the Reina Sofia) drawing art lovers in their millions to Madrid.

The elegant streets of Málaga

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Having learnt that the Carmen Thyssen museum had now opened (it actually opened in 2011, but I was a bit slow in picking up on this), my partner and I were quick to arrange ourselves a little trip from Marbella to Málaga, leaving behind the beaches for a short immersion within Málaga’s cultural offerings. But what with the opening of the new port, and the attraction of Málaga’s elegant Modernista streets beckoning, we felt it only reasonable to turn our initial plans of a day trip into a one-night stay. And so it was that our trip to the city was enriched by the silky lining that only the comfort of a night in a splendid hotel can offer, comfort which comes no more so that at the hands of the Molina Lario Hotel which we made our home for the night, a newish hotel based in a hybrid renovation of modernist palace and brand new building, and which boasts a stunning rooftop pool with unbeatable views over Málaga’s “one-armed lady”: the Cathedral whose second bell tower was never finished owing to a lack of funds, and which today is the most famous icon of the city.

Now how about this for a pool with a view…

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As the photos above will more than demonstrate, we certainly made the most of all that the hotel had to offer, and sipping wine on the pool side terrace overlooking a vast panorama of the city in the dying light of the day has to have been one of my highlights of the whole Spanish holiday. But what about that museum? Well once we had managed to pull ourselves away from the plentiful distractions which our hotel provided, we headed straight for the Thyssen, our passage being interrupted only once or twice by the pull of the beautiful Plaza del Obispo, whose iconic red and yellow Episcopal Palace and its viewpoint straight onto the façade of Málaga’s imposing Cathedral made a stop in the idyllic square for a glass of something ice cold and thirst quenching a practical prerequisite. But thanks to the Thyssen’s superb location, just west of the main Plaza de la Constitucion, we soon made it to this impressive new museum, whose architecture, based around the old Palacio de Vaillalon but benefiting from innovative new extensions is, in itself something to be admired before the collection is even surveyed.

The Plaza del Obispo

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…and the Carmen Thyssen Museum

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Having entered through the museum’s sun drenched traditional courtyard, and helped ourselves to a small cortado coffee and a miniature lemon meringue pie in the café, we slowly made our way around the museum’s four floors of Andalucía-based art, largely emanating from the 19th century. I have often heard this period of Spanish art, between the golden age greats of Velazquez and El Greco, the traumatic masterpieces of Goya, and the 20th century brilliance of Picasso and Dali, to be dismissed as insipid; even boring. But for those who love the rich history-rich culture of Southern Spain, this collection is a treat. From street scenes showing the Easter Semana Santa parades in all their lavish details, and almost impressionistic depictions of the Spanish coast, to stunningly detailed paintings of traditional Andaluz patios, and crowds bursting into local bull rings, there really is something for everyone in this perfectly located collection which really does beat to the rhythm of Andalucía’s heart.

Our visit also coincided with a temporary exhibition of Cordoba based Julio Romero de Torres (1874-1930), a master of  Andalucían symbolism, with an oeuvre associated with popular and folk trends, interspersed with the wide-eyed females who languish so prominently and poetically across his canvases against strangely surreal, often looming skies.

A selection of Romero de Torres’ work

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Back at the hotel, our feet pulsating after an afternoon exploring both the Thyssen and the elegant streets and Plazas surrounding it, all that remained was to enjoy that incredible view from the comfort of our hotel’s rooftop swimming pool, and later to dine in the city’s bustling tapas-bar lined streets, with a stroll along the glittering new port before bed. The perfect end to a day as rich as Málaga is abundant – in culture, in architecture, in beauty, and in progress: No longer just the gateway to the Costa del Sol, Málaga has surely earned its place as one of Spain’s must-visit cultural centres.

Málaga’s glittering new port

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Details of the Carmen Thyssen Museum, including temporary exhibitions and future shows can be found here.