Bea Bonafini, Bathing Melusine, 2019, stained porcelain, black clay, sea glass and salted water, 62 x 52cm. €3,000. © GALERIE CHLOE SALGADO and the artist

Fondamenta, by Artissima  
5 June – 5 July 20202

The works by Bea Bonafini presented in the Present Future section of Fondamenta, display a hybridity between the animal and human, or the falling apart of the human body as it morphs into other forms, suggesting that aspirations and dreams are capable of melting human, physical and psychological limits. In all three works there’s a process of fragmentation, overlapping themes of water, fluidity and metamorphosis. They showcase the artist’s ability to work across media while maintaining her distinctive style, where the works adopt the language of displaced artefacts in order to shape new narratives. 

The works Fortuna and Hold on to me are part of a recent series of wall-based paintings on engraved and inlayed cork from 2020. The use of cork follows Bonafini’s interest in materials that have a softness to them, which can be stained or have a prominent texture of their own, and are commonly used by artisans or in interior design, as insulation, and in the wine and fashion industries. It is a sustainable material, leaving the tree unharmed when it is harvested every 9 years from the cork oak tree. These works are based on medieval and ancient beliefs on fortune and fate. The goddess Fortuna in Roman religion is blind, but she’s active and capricious. The quatrefoil forms are representative of an axis-mundi, depicting the passage between the celestial and the underworld. They also behave as an axis between the visual languages of the ancient world and of the Italian Futurist movement.

Bonafini’s use of the ancient marbling technique where porcelain is stained, layered, cut and recomposed to create patterns and distortions which remain unglazed, can be seen in the wall-based ceramic Bathing Melusine from 2019, based on a mythological female water spirit where the materials (sea glass and salt water) echo the subject matter. The artist’s use of a carpet inlay technique is demonstrated in the work Watch Me As I Fall from 2019, the wall-based tapestry depicts a figure descending down the stairs, her mirror and reflection multiplies into a myriad of floating marks cross the work, while phantom upside down figures haunt and taunt her. The cascade of marks and gestures increases her potential tumble as she falls. 

Bea Bonafini works across painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, performance and installation. Her interdisciplinary practice is often textile-based and socially engaged; inspired by confrontation in human relationships, ritual processes and notions of the sensual and the visceral. With her fabric, ceramic and cork inlay works in particular she explores the flexibility of formal possibilities that come with replacing paint with alternative materials. The artist uses a horizontal process of continuous and obsessive slicing and splicing, repeating the fragmentation to complicate the image, so that it appears in syncopated forms, to slow down the viewer’s reading of the work. Testing the notion of comfort, her installations and performances operate on the boundary between functionality and the aesthetic. 

Artissima presents Fondamenta,  a curated online project that will run from 5 June – 5 July 2020. Fondamenta is a project based on the work of a fair in progress, to experiment with new ways of meeting and communicating, reacting to the transformations of the present. Fondamenta is not a viewing room, not a virtual tour, not an exhibition. It is a collective project coordinated by the curators of Artissima 2020 and produced with galleries for galleries, which are the fundamental “fondamenta”(foundations) of the fair, the heart and fulcrum of the art market. Fondamenta offers a virtual selection of approximately 200 art works (priced up to 15,000 Euros), presented by Italian and international exhibitors from Artissima 2019.