Bea Bonafini

Slick Submissions, 2018

Pastel on wool and nylon carpet inlay

366 × 426 cm

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The inlaid carpet artwork is inspired by Etruscan tomb designs, drawing on the ancient Italian civilisation’s obsession with specular violence and athletics, sex games and romance, competitive fight and sexual encounter. Bea Bonafini works with abstraction and figuration, thereby reconstructing and simultaneously deconstructing an image. The dominant subject of the ancient paintings – a flat, profile figure – can be discovered in the carpet’s slow-to-appear imagery. The cut-out appearance of the carpet-tapestry bears resemblance to the pail shapes in the ancient paintings, created over time as the tomb walls have worn away and parts of the paintings are replaced by stone gaps. The Etruscan influence can be further observed in the pastel colours of yellow, blue, green and deep orange. Bonafini combines Etruscan figuration with contemporary Mixed Martial Fighting competitions. The artwork takes its name from an MMA strategy, referring to a sneaky, fluid motion that is designed to bring the component swiftly to the ground. MMA fighters are commonly referred to as contemporary gladiators, and the complex conformations of this technical conflict often verge on the homoerotic. The layered nature of Bonafini’s carpets accentuates the idea of entangled bodies during a fight, the intimacy of which inspires the idea of romance and sexual encounter or conflict. Slick Submissions is a site-specific commission for the exhibition, Searching For Myself Through Remote Skins (May 2018) by Renata Fabbri Gallery, Milan.

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

October 1st, 2018 until
November 9th, 2018
Curated by ARTUNER