Mural exhibition pays tribute to Picasso

Zhu Yile
Street art comes to the Shanghai Metro with the launch of a "Malaga Loves Shanghai" mural exhibition noting two significant anniversaries at three of the city's busiest stations.
Zhu Yile

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Spain, as well as the 50th anniversary of Picasso's passing, the hometown of Picasso, Malaga, has launched a "Malaga Loves Shanghai" large-scale mural painting exhibition.

The series of events, previously exhibited in Munich, Germany, last spring and Basel, Switzerland, in September, has now arrived in Shanghai, making it the third city to host the event.

The opening ceremony took place at Longyang Road Metro Station in the Pudong New Area on December 7.

The exhibition will unfold at three Metro stations in Shanghai: Xintiandi, Jiao Tong University, and Longyang Road. These three stations typically have a monthly passenger flow ranging from 6 to 10 million, providing an opportunity for a larger audience to appreciate the artworks.

Of these stations, Longyang Road is a major hub in the Pudong New Area, covering four subway lines and the Maglev train line connecting the city center with Shanghai Pudong International Airport. The artwork at this station measures 14 x 4 meters and will be the only permanent piece, already completed and installed. Another two equally large artworks will be completed soon.

Jacobo Florido, deputy mayor of the city of Malaga and responsible for tourism promotion, Luis Calvo, consul general of Spain in Shanghai, Inma Gonzalez Puy, director of the Miguel de Cervantes Library, and Maria Llinares, tourism counselor of the Spanish Embassy in China and director of Turespana Beijing, were among those attending the opening ceremony.

The event was supported by the Consulate General of Spain in Shanghai, the Spanish Tourism Authority, the Shanghai People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture and Tourism, and Montana Colors.

Mural exhibition pays tribute to Picasso

Jacobo Florido (left), Malaga's deputy mayor, and Jonathan Gomez, director of the city's tourism board.

Florido said Shanghai marked his inaugural journey to China. "Shanghai is the first place I traveled in China. It is a lovely place. You will be so surprised – a place like paradise," he said.

The city's allure caught him off guard, especially following his exploration of the enchanting city center with beautiful lanes and historical architectures. "It is necessary to attract more tourism from Spain to Shanghai. To achieve this, a robust promotional effort in Spain showcasing Shanghai's unique attractions becomes paramount," he said.

"In Malaga, there are two crucial aspects – tourism and technology. The city holds the distinction of being the most important technology hub in Spain, often referred to as the Silicon Valley of Europe. The technology park is renowned, and it is currently home to Google headquarters.

"Besides, we have more than 35 museums. You have the the birth home of Picasso and the Picasso museum. You can find a Thyssen museum. And the third pillar in Malaga is the gastronomy. So you can find in one destination, three things."

Mural exhibition pays tribute to Picasso

The artist Lalone at work on a mural during the opening ceremony.

Jonathan Gomez, director of Malaga's tourism board, moved to Malaga three years ago. "All of Spain wants to move to Malaga. It's a new challenge. The quality of life is very good, many people who working in technology are coming to live in Malaga."

Malaga has been recognized by Forbes as the top city for living. "Shanghai could leverage this recognition to attract more travelers from Spain," he said. Considering Malaga's vibrant cultural scene, including festivals, performances, and theaters, he believes such exchanges could attract families to Malaga for cultural experiences. Malaga's extensive coastline, which draws people from around the world, and its wealthy populace, could make it an ideal venue for organizing such cultural events.

This is also Gomez's third visit to China, with the first one in 2007. The changes he has witnessed in Shanghai from 2007 to the present day have been remarkable, he said. Shanghai had evolved impressively in terms of development, construction, cleanliness, and its cosmopolitan atmosphere. Returning in 2010 for business, he noted substantial advancements in various aspects.

The initiative of launching street art murals in Shanghai with the Metro system's collaboration was a significant breakthrough. He is excited about cultural exchanges between Malaga and Shanghai. "We launched three different street art murals in Shanghai. It is the first time the Shanghai Metro allowed these street activities. It's lovely, it's very nice," Gomez said.

Mural exhibition pays tribute to Picasso

A Flamenco dancer performs during the opening ceremony.

The murals in the exhibition have been created by the Spanish artist Eduardo Luque , known as Lalone. The artworks blend the urban scenery of Shanghai with the Andalusian charm of Malaga, emphasizing the connection between Malaga and Chinese culture. They incorporate elements paying tribute to Picasso and draw inspiration from Cubism.

Born in 1982, Lalone has been passionate about art since childhood. He is self-taught and the winner of the Spanish National Graffiti Championship in 2021. One of his pieces was recognized among the world's top 25 murals by Street Art Cities in 2021.

Lalone is the first artist to engage in a live creation in the Shanghai subway space. His style often combines cartoon art with realism.

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