When the brothers behind the Bar 44 Spanish restaurant group signed the lease on their newest tapas bar in Clifton village, Bristol, opening on 1 August, their first phone call was to their old friend Andi Rivas.
They had worked with Andi on some stunning art installations in their Cowbridge, Penarth and Cardiff sites previously and they knew that his unique gift in marrying classic Spanish design with a deep understanding of Spanish culture along with his uniquely modern and fun style of painting would be ideal for their latest incarnation.
Andi is a world-renowned graphic artist with a history of edgy street art too. His pieces are intriguing, multi-layered and thought provoking. Hailing from Cádiz in southern Spain, one of Tom and Owen’s favourite parts of the world, due to their deep-love of sherry and the culture surrounding it (the drink is only produced in a small area just outside the city), Andi spends six months of the year in his native city and the other six months of the year in his adopted home, Bristol.
He immediately started designing the mural which would become the focal point of the new Bar 44. In conjunction with Alhambra Cerveza, his thought process was to encapsulate the stunning Moorish architecture found in and around the Alhambra Palace in Granada, but to deliver it with a fun-filled twist of cheeky cherubs drinking beer and having a good time. The result can be seen in this video which details the two-week long process of creating the mural.
The installation really was a labour of love, as, after only a couple of days, he fell off his bike and had to complete the mural with his arm in a sling. Initially, Andi thought that the piece of work was cursed! However, when looking at the finished article with deep satisfaction, he was more philosophical, declaring, “You know what they say, Tom, ‘no pain, no gain!”
Andi has now turned his focus to a trio of giant canvases which will adorn the wall next to the “bodeguilla de jamón” (literally, the ham cellar or vault) in the bar.There will be three hand-carved top-grade Ibérico hams on the menu, from three different DO Jamón-producing areas in Spain. Andi has taken inspiration from a famous Spanish phrase for the canvases. The Beatles sang “all you need is love”, however, in Spain they want more from life, they believe that the secret to a fruitful life is “Salud, Dinero y Amor”, or Health, Wealth and Love. Each picture follows one of these themes, but as always, Andi has included a provocative twist and some of his unique humour. There are even some references to Clifton and Bristol in the paintings which the keen-eyed observer should be able to spot.
Tom is delighted with the results: “As always, it has been inspiring to see Andi produce some unique representations of Spanish life, history and culture for Bar 44. We are so very fortunate to have become friends with such a talented artist. He really understands the passion for Spain and Spanish produce that the Bar 44 team endeavour to bring to the customer every single day and this is reflected in his stunning works of art”.