Bea Bonafini

Battle III, 2017

Caran d'Ache on Paper

90 × 60 cm


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It is quite a jarring feeling to realise that we are looking at a battle scene. Although there could be no doubt – the broken lances, flying helmets, and armoured limbs are unequivocal signifiers – the pastel hues of the composition’s palette deceptively position the event in an oneiric or fable dimension.

To create this drawing, Bea Bonafini was inspired by the striking marble mosaic inlays on the floor of the Duomo di Siena, a masterpiece which Giorgio Vasari considered the “most beautiful…, largest and most magnificent floor ever made”. Having been created between the 14th and 19th century, portions of the floor have withstood several centuries of foot traffic, resulting, here and there, in partial fading, that at times compromises the figurative style of these epic representations. Here, facial features disappear, limbs and objects merge, or bodies lose their outlines thus blending with the background. It is precisely in these accidents of history and passing time that Bonafini found inspiration for her characteristic style where there does not seem to be a clear cut distinction between figurative and abstract elements, but all bleed into each other, blending and morphing for as long as the viewer observes it.

the artist

Bea Bonafini was born in Bonn, Germany, in 1990. She is an Italian, London-based artist working with multiple media. She graduated from Slade School of Fine Art, UCL in 2014, after which she received the Slade Prize and went on to complete an MA in Painting at Royal College of Arts. In 2017, she was featured in a solo show at the leading London institution, Zabludowicz Collection, for their acclaimed exhibition series Zabludowicz Collection Invites.

Bea Bonafini is a sculptor, textile and multimedia artist whose installations combine craftsmanship, functionality and aesthetic. She has been likened to an architect due to her command of how a space is received. The artist is fascinated by environments and their formal and conceptual conventions and celebrates how spaces bring people together. Therefore, she often works with holistic spaces and explores them by subverting their social, cultural and religious connotations.

Bonafini creates immersive environments that influence the viewer’s relation to the space and others within it and is interested in how different proximities effect how her artworks relate to one another. Inlaid carpet artworks and quasi-domestic objects test the notion of comfort: decorative surfaces, layers of history and a subtle command of the Art Décor palette subvert otherwise welcoming spaces and are experienced instead as consuming and uneasy. Her works often teeter on the boundaries between playfulness and antiquity, domestic and sacred, and softness and conflict; the juxtapositions in themselves portraying the latter. The play on domesticity, enhanced by warm and gentle colours, draws the viewer in, thereby creating a sense of familiarity that is simultaneously undermined by the absurdity of the artworks whose functionality is compromised. Seemingly domestic objects are instead signs and symbols of larger systems of faith or power.

While her artworks are closely related to the practice of painting, and indeed her carpets bear close resemblance to her paintings that have similar intersecting, weaving segments, much of her work extends beyond the limitations of a canvas or a frame. The presentation and display of her artworks have always been very important to Bonafini, as this affects their reception and immersive potential. For this reason, the dimensions of the works are carefully calculated, often relating directly to the space in which they are exhibited.

Bea Bonafini wants the artwork to be experienced in its entirety; she encourages viewers to explore her carpet-tapestries with their feet, and enjoys the observational advantages offered by the vastness of a carpet. As much as the viewer is affected by the artwork, the works are affected by the viewers, whose feet slowly erode and change the carpets. Therefore, an intimate and continuous relationship between person and object is produced.

Bonafini creates immersive environments that influence the viewer’s relation to the space and others within it and is interested in how different proximities effect how her artworks relate to one another.

Bea Bonafini
on Artuner

Part of the

February 13th, 2019 until
May 13th, 2019
Curated by ARTUNER