Street painting in Málaga, an old story

angel painting málaga gaona
Angel found in Gaona Street

Street painting, or graffiti, is not something new in the streets of Malaga. It looks like it is very fashionable these days around SOHO Malaga, but at the 18th century, it was not only a fashion. Every façade in town had its own, from simple ones to more elaborated. Thanks to many restoration works, a whole new concept of how Malaga looked like three centuries ago has arisen.

We will reveal here some of the best examples you can see all over the town, but they are not just these. From time to time, we discover a new one, so keep your head up when you walk around town!

felipe neri malaga
Church of San Felipe Neri, Málaga

We start with one of the most interesting spaces in Malaga, the church San Felipe Neri. A whole façade is painted although you may not have noticed it. A rich geometrical shape is reproduced from bottom to top, with an original pattern not seen anywhere else in town. It is the same case as the church San Juan, and this has its own name, “Horror Vacui”, latin word which means “horror to emptiness”. This was the fashion at the beginning of the 18th century in Malaga, and it was about totally painting the walls, without leaving any part of them unpainted. They used to represent the way they built at that time, so they are commonly reproduced bricks, stones or other geometrical shapes more elaborated.

panaderos house malaga
House at Calle Panaderos, Málaga

Along that century, fashion changed and the “Horror Vacui” gave way to a new trend. Architectonical elements appeared on façade, like columns, baseboards, friezes, etc. They reproduced how they would love to have built these façades if they had the money to do it. Of course, money was an issue and painting was always a cheaper solution.

These paintings expressed also the likings of their owners, and one thing they liked very much was to show off on their walls. In fact, it is not very different from a present wall, but this time on your social media. It is not stupid to think that these paintings were the Facebook of that time. You may find a painted clock, which was a sign of refinement (although time stood still!) or that the owner used to travel to the Americas, so that they painted faces of Indians or fantastic visions of an unknown world, with magical beings that amazed the citizens of Malaga.

museo vidrio malaga
Imaginary vision of the Americas, Museo del Vidrio, Málaga.

Other interesting paintings are related to an important archaeological finding made at that century. Pompeii was discovered, and thus how they had their walls painted. This inspired in one of the recently unveiled façades at Calle Carretería. They use the reddish color appeared on Pompeii’s walls, and also some Roman inspired figures.

street painting pompeii málaga carreteria
Pompeii inspired house at Calle Carretería, Málaga

Surely many more paintings will appear in a near future, but this has an easy explanation. We have to go back to the nineteenth century to put us in context. Many infectious diseases had spread all over the town, some of them being very severe and killing lots of citizens. They decided then to paint every single façade with lime, a white stone that kills any organic matter. A full-colored Malaga was hidden under a white coat and finally now they are appearing along restoration works. Thankfully, all these beautiful drawings were not destroyed, but kept secret behind. This is one of the new items we are showing in our new tour we are preparing this 2015, called “Secret Malaga”. If you want to know more about it, click here.

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