Bea Bonafini

The Battle of Dovetail III, 2017

Wool, nylon and propylene carpet inlay

350 × 300 cm

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The Battle of Dovetail III by Bea Bonafini is an intricate puzzle where human, animal, and abstract shapes interlock and bleed into each other, in often unexpected ways. Like dovetail joints made of tenons and mortises, the figures’ tangles are perfectly balanced between tension and release. This work, which was originally exhibited at the Zabludowicz Collection in London, was inspired by a reflection on chapels, following Bonafini’s artistic residency in Tuscany, when she had the occasion to spend quite some time contemplating the inlaid marble floors of the Duomo di Siena. These engaging ‘marble paintings’ are narrative and cleverly interspersed with optical illusions. However today, due to heavy footfall over the centuries, they have been partially erased and are a mixture of figuration and abstraction.

The space of the Duomo, just like many other churches, is inviting and seductive: visitors feel inclined to spend time within it, in contemplation or prayer. The Biblical or historical imagery surrounding them, however, is often quite violent, just like the floor marble inlay that inspired Dovetail: the slow and subconscious absorption of the imagery, Bonafini suggests, is always somewhat traumatic, especially so when the vessel is perceived as nurturing. Thus challenging the idea of the home – spiritual or domestic – as the most comfortable place of all, the artist creates an artwork that is both inviting and functional (it is a carpet), and at the same time disturbing (when the half-abstracted images of war are processed by our mind).

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