I’d read that Málaga Arte Urbano Soho (MAUS) had been instrumental in introducing open-air street art to the city in order to transform a scruffy neighbourhood between the Guadalmedina River and the port. Tourist information provided a photocopied black and white map with 30 numbered sites and pictures of some of the art around the outside with arrows pointing to the relevant number. It all looked pretty simple and straightforward.
Apart from a few outlying numbers, the art was clustered into two main areas of Malaga’s pedestrianised Soho district.
The walk from our hotel to Soho took us down the side of the river, in reality a dried-up concrete bed that can be flooded when the upstream dam is opened. Whilst graffiti adorned the concrete banks, we couldn’t find number 5 despite a picture depicting Disney characters, whilst number 4 could have been any aspect of the graffiti. However, thanks to a picture we found the 130m long mural of letters in black and white by Ben Eine, a well-known graffiti artist in London’s east end. Although we couldn’t make out what the word was, on reading more about him later, they were perhaps just a random set of letters.
It was then hard to miss two large works painted on the side of a building near the Museum of Contemporary Art or Centro de Arte Contemporaneo: ‘The Pilot’ by Englishman D*Face and ‘Paz y Libertad’ (Peace and Freedom) by American, Obey.
We then headed to what we thought was the cluster of works furthest from the river, but didn’t get off on the right foot, or should I say, the right street. We thought we’d found 26, a pack of rats sliding down the wall of a house which sounds hard to miss, but the many times photocopied map wasn’t that clear.
However, we eventually navigated our way using the street art map and a regular map, and found, or thought we’d found a few of the numbers in the second cluster.
After a couple of hours, we stopped at La Cueva D1900 where we sat outside for a reviving drink which came with a complimentary tapa of French bread with cheese. A second round of drinks was accompanied by yet more bread, this time with thin slices of cold meat. It was easy to see why it was so popular with locals, with many waiting for people to leave.
Fortified, we began with the next cluster. This time we were slightly more successful and on Calle Vendeja found four well-known creative faces from Malaga: Pablo Picasso, Antonio Banderas, and two actors we’d not heard of, Chiquito de la Calzada and Dani Rovira. As the mural proclaimed, Malaga loves art! A very striking huge chameleon caught our eye, as well as a beautiful woman.
Whilst we were confident we were in the right area, and knew exactly where we were, we went round and round in circles and eventually assumed that some of the art had been lost to the building of the hotel ICON Malabar. We read later that the hotel opened in July 2020, so think our assumptions were correct.
The art was all over: on the sides of buildings, electricity boxes, derelict walls, shop fronts and it was important to keep eyes peeled as it was at all levels. Some of it was attractive and some was literally what I would have described as graffiti, but we’d enjoyed our street art trail, despite its frustrations.
Back at home, and looking more into Malaga’s street art, I found a much better map produced by MAUS which can be found at http://mausmalaga.com/pdf/guiamaus.pdf.