Bea Bonafini

Tomb of the Bullesses, 2018

Pastel on Mixed Carpet Inlay and Wood

78 × 61 cm

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Bea Bonafini’s sensual sculptures, much like her signature carpet-tapestries invite engagement from the audience. Protruding from the wall at a 90° angle, these thin, double sided sculptures challenge canonical artwork categories by introducing her technique of carpet marquetry to semi-standing work.

The Tomb of the Bullesses deftly choreographs the viewer’s semi-circular movement around it, engaging all the senses as its materiality recalls the horizontal surface beneath one’s feet.

The sculpture references an Etruscan tomb dating back to 520 BC in Tarquinia, whose iconography includes two bulls beside moments of playful sexual intimacy. Bea Bonafini often works with imagery that she has seen in the flesh, such as in the case of these frescoed tombs: she takes photographs of the details that catch her eye, reworks them in drawings, and finally translates them to sculpture or tapestry. “I often end up choosing to work with images which have some sort of idiosyncratic intensity – Bonafini states in an interview – building up to a climax or post-climax, whether it be movement, conflict, euphoria, connection, metamorphosis, chaos or the visceral”.

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