Some members of the Cortijo Opazo household have been getting a bit of culture recently. The two tall ones took a few days out to visit the Andalucian city of Malaga, birth place of Picasso. Many of the Dogblog readers will know Malaga simply by its airport. Now, in my experience, a comparison of Malaga airport with any of the flight terminals in the UK would come down in favour of the large and airy Andalucian flight terminal, especially if your comparison is the god forsaken Gatwick airport. But a smart flight terminal is not all this city has to offer. If you have some time you can stroll out of the airport building and into the very sleek and uncrowded railway station. For the price of €1,20 you can catch the train into the centre of Malaga, arriving at an equally impressive modern interchange just a short walk from Malaga’s historic city centre. The last time I checked a single from Gatwick airport to the centre of London on the ironically named ‘Gatwick Express’ the cost was £19.90 - or the equivalent of €26.
My advice to travellers is that Malaga city merits some attention, I would recommend a stay of 2 nights, time to absorb some of the city’s great food and culture but still leaving you wanting a return trip. Everything you might want to see is pretty walkable, but if not, there are numerous local buses, and taxis are not so very expensive. My two tall companions stayed in a spacious apartment right in the city centre.
The intrepid two from Cortijo Opazo arrived late afternoon and soon settled in to an evening of beer, wine and tapas. Now, Malaga province in general does not give you free tapas - which is why we could never leave our beloved Granada province - but most of the bars will offer you a menu of well priced and very tasty tapas that you can order to nibble with your tipple. At the famous Bodega El Pimpi they enjoyed a plate of fried white bait with a glass of crisp white wine, then changing to a deep Rioja they moved on to a variety of tiny toasts topped with various meat based products, from paté to black pudding, smoked cod to air dried ham. And so the evening went on, but after the first bar their memories are rather short on details!
One of their more cultural excursions involved a walk along to the newly developed port area of the town, through the delightful tropical gardens of the Paseo del Parque. Their destination was an outreach gallery showing items from the famous Pompidou centre in Paris, based in Malaga for at least five years. The collection was very interesting, enough to stimulate and challenge the artistic taste but not too much that it became oversaturated.
They had previously visited the Picasso museum and whilst they considered this worthwhile there was not enough to tempt them to return - the gallery of Reina Sofia in Madrid has a better selection of his work. They did, however, choose to walk out to the marvellous old building that used to house the tobacco factory, La Tabacalara, and spent a good three hours enjoying the paintings on offer in the Museum of the Russian Collection, another outreach project that we very much hope is here to stay. The building itself is ornamental and endearing, but inside, the work on display is staggering. The main collection takes you swiftly but intelligently through the history of Russian art, from old religious icons to the brutal modernistic works of painters supporting the Stalin regime of the 20th century. A selection of work that clearly showed how art reflects the age.
But it was the special exhibition that really took the attention of my two culture vultures. This was a tribute to the work of the little know Pavel Filonov, a clearly great Russian artist who died of starvation in 1941. Contemporary of Mayakovsky and the other Futurists he refused to sell his paintings to private collectors which meant that his work was hardly seen outside of Russia until the Russian Museum finally permitted an exhibition of his paintings in 1988. His work is startling, go on to Wikipedia and see it for yourself. Shocking, detailed and mesmerising don’t go far enough, according to my two legged arty fellows. Disturbing and obsessive works revealing an extraordinary and noteworthy artist. There was much more they could have seen, but Malaga is just a two hour drive from Cortijo Opazo and so there’s every opportunity for them to return.
With their culture appetite satiated for the moment, we are all back at Cortijo Opazo working hard on the garden, as ever, with the much appreciated help of two volunteers who have joined us from Budapest for a couple of weeks. Fortunately for them the sun has been shining, but that’s what it has been doing all winter - where is the rain we so desperately need?
Yours, thinking of dabbling in oils and looking for a subject. Tell me what you think (comment box below)!