MÁlaga’s Renaissance Man
By Brenda Padilla
Málaga born Diego Santos lives in the heart of his native city's centre in one of it's most emblematic buildings - the birth place of Pablo Picasso. That's right. He lives right there overlooking the charming Plaza de la Merced where Spain's pride and joy spent his first years.
Could that spirit of artistic revolution still reside at number 15 in Málaga's famed plaza del a Merced? It most definitely does. While Santos' work has nothing to do with that of his famous historical neighbour, it is bold and contemporary, something you can't really put in any particular box.
"Why should I have to spend my life always doing the same thing?" he exclaims, when asked why his talents roam so far and wide. "Life changes and we must evolve with it."
It is this free thinking attitude and a spirit of exploration that has lead Santos to experiment with many different mediums and art forms. In fact, not only does he draw, paint and sculpt, but he is also an active interior decorator. Among his major projects are Málaga's Hotel Larios, a must visit, great place to stay on any visitor’s list, and the Casa Natal Pablo Picasso museum, a recreation of Pablo Picasso's father's study at the Picasso Foundation museum located - where else, but right under Santo's balcony on the ground floor of Plaza de la Merced number 15.
Diego Santos has exhibited his work in more than 200 exhibitions in Málaga, Paris, Amsterdam, Sophia and beyond. Many of those exhibits were dedicated exclusively to his work and he is featured frequently at Málaga's CAC - Centro de Arte Contemporaneo (Contemporary Art Museum).
While Santo's artistic talents run far and wide and he is dedicated to continually expanding his repertoire of skills and products, there is one particular era that fascinates - possibly even obsesses - him. That is the 1950's architecture all along the Costa del Sol - buildings that no one else seems to appreciate, which he has long fought to preserve. These include such edifices as the Hotel Pez Espada in Torremolinos , a hotel that was built in 1959 and welcomed the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardener, Audry Hepburn and so many other glittering stars. It also includes the "Tiempo Libre" complex outside Marbella.
Santos has published numerous books on this 1950's architecture, which he called the "Style of Relax" - convinced that someday posterity will appreciate the chance to experience these historical relics. But first, he has to convince local politicians of this possibility and that is a job that keeps him busy lobbying for support.
Busy this man may be, but he is never too busy to spend time in the sunny, studio located in the back of his centuries old flat in Málaga's centre. That is really the hub of this multi-faceted, renaissance man's activity. From that bright, cheerful room Santos will continue to churn out works of art that will most certainly leave his mark on Málaga for centuries to come.