Bea Bonafini

Proposition for a Non-religious Chapel II, 2017

Caran d'Ache on Paper

200 × 150 cm

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“Drawing is indispensable for me to understand something conceptually. When I am drawn to something, I tend to draw it over and over again to figure out what it is about that thing that attracts me.” says Bea Bonafini. Proposition for a Non-religious Chapel II was part of Bonafini’s exhibition at the Zabludowicz Collection in London ‘Dovetail’s Nest’, where she took over the deconsecrated chapel and turned into a space for non-religious contemplation. The drawing hung on the furthermost wall as one entered the room and took on the same role as an altarpiece: it pulled you through the space, but, unlike a canonical pala d’altare, it does not adhere to any one specific belief, it does not seek to indoctrinate the viewer.

It is not a narrative composition either, but the complexity of pattern and architecture is arresting: the stalactite formations hint to a grotto-like space, where the overhanging bodies are either mirrored in floor mosaic tiles, or reflected in a still pool of water. The pastel colours lend the impression of a bejewelled and fabled locus, like Aladdin’s cave. The puzzling perspective of the composition gives us both a bird’s eye view and the impression we are standing under an imposing vault and indeed, sacred spaces often make use of monumental proportions and larger-than-life depictions: this is how we are reminded that we are standing in the presence of something that is bigger than us, and our troubles melt away in the knowledge of their smallness compared to the infinite.

the artist

Bea Bonafini (b. 1990, Bonn, Germany) is an Italian, London-based artist working with multiple media. She graduated from The Slade School of Fine Art 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, as part of their acclaimed exhibition series Zabludowicz Collection Invites. In 2022 her work was shown in solo shows at Setareh in Berlin and at LAAA in Mexico City.

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 12th, 2019 until
October 30th, 2019
Curated by ARTUNER