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Ronnie comes to Ronnie’s as popular Warwick bar becomes pop-up art gallery

Rupam Barthakur

A huge abstract portrait of Ronnie Wood will be the highlight of a brand new art exhibition on show at a popular Warwick nightspot of the same name. 

Ronnie’s Bar, a popular bar and live music venue on Jury Street in the heart of the historic town, is adding ‘art gallery’ to its list of accolades as it showcases work by local artist Rupam ‘Rupe’ Barthakur.

The exhibition, which will see Rupam’s work take up residence on Ronnie’s walls as well as being available for purchase, will be opened by the Mayor of Warwick on September 8th and will run until September 22nd. In line with the venue’s style and focus, the collection will feature plenty of music-inspired art, including the giant portrait of Rolling Stones icon Ronnie Wood as well as portraits of Jimi Hendrix, Prince and Frank Sinatra, plus more abstract creations inspired by New Orleans and Cuban street dancers.

Rupam Barthakur

The project has involved other local businesses, with wood for the pieces provided by local hardware store Torry’s Hardware & DIY and help from local art supplies business Picturesque for all materials. Local decorators, Kingham Flowers, assisted with the transportation to and from Rupam’s workshop.

Rupam moved to Warwick after university in Birmingham, working for Severn Trent on Stratford Road and making the town his home. He moved to Cornwall in 2004 where he started pursuing art seriously and has continued since returning to Warwick in 2011. Now retired from Severn Trent, he hosts ‘art busking’ workshops at events including the Warwick Folk Festival and his work has been displayed at venues including the Warwick Museum, Leamington Spa Museum and Art Gallery.

Ronnie's Bar Warwick

He said: “I have always felt that art is about all the senses – so what is better than combining the visual stuff with great cocktails so you get, for example, the taste of Cuba, as well as music. It makes it much more immersive. It’s also a much more relaxed place to see art than in a gallery so I like the idea of having it on display here. 

“My dad taught me the basics of art but it was only when we moved to Cornwall that I met all these amazing artists and realised I could really pursue this. But I wanted to do something a bit different. I love the buzz of live music – it’s uplifting when you come to a place like Ronnie’s and I wanted to participate with that. 

“Since I moved back to Warwick I’ve done commissions and one-offs as well as workshops, but never a whole series. My ambition was always to do a series of work and have it shown as a collection. I got talking to Phil and we thought it would be great to display it at Ronnie’s.”

Rupam Barthakur

Phil Baker, owner of Ronnie’s, said: “Creativity is at the heart of what we do at Ronnie’s, from the amazing live music we have to the decor and our vibrant outdoor spaces, so when Rupe was looking for somewhere to display his work, I couldn’t think of a better thing to do. His type of work lends itself to our environment – especially given the fact we can actually bring Ronnie to Ronnie’s!

“It brings potential new clientele, it changes the aesthetics of the place slightly and most importantly, it’s supporting a local artist and has almost become a bit of a community project, involving other local businesses and individuals. We can’t wait to show everyone Rupe’s brilliant art and if all goes well, we’re looking forward to doing more things like this in the future.”

Ronnie's Warwick

The art exhibition will be opened by the Mayor of Warwick at 7pm on September 8th. Pieces will be on display until September 22nd and available to buy, while the portrait of Ronnie Wood, although still for sale, will stay in situ for longer.