Bea Bonafini:
Talk to the Hand

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11 April –

25 May 2019

Bea Bonafini’s first solo exhibition at the gallery titled Talk to the Hand,  contains two new tapestries, shown as wall-hangings, and a series of ceramic tools and masks. The exhibition is a material and narrative reformatting of memory and fantasy: an elaboration of loss, a falling apart. The loneliness that comes with loss is compared to falling locks of hair or missing sections of an image. The excessive growth of a body spiralling out of control: sections of the tapestries are growing outwards into the gallery space, where hair bursts from crevices, and lumps disturb sleeping faces. Ancient hair-related tools are brought back to life, enlarged and sprouting hair.


Bea Bonafini continues to develop an inlay technique, using carpet, following a horizontal process of continuous and obsessive slicing and splicing. She repeats the fragmentation to complicate the image, so that it appears in syncopated forms, to slow down the viewer’s reading of the work. In Watch Me As I Fall a central figure in chunky boots descends the stairs as she looks at herself in the mirror. Her boots become detached and walk by themselves, as new comically hairy versions of themselves; the mirror and her reflection multiply into a myriad of floating marks across the work; two phantom upside-down figures haunt and taunt her, the voices in her head taking form in the empty space. The cascade of marks and gestures increases her potential of tumbling down the stairs as she descends.

Bonafini’s ceramics such as Scissors, Roman use a similar process of cutting and combining as the tapestries: nerikomi, a Japanese technique used to make agateware. The marbling of mixed clays, vulcan stoneware and porcelain, and the carving further distorts the object, glazes slip into cracks. The tools are loosely based on ancient roman objects, and reference the fabric scissors used for most of the other works. Both the writings and the extensive Rome exhibition of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, heavily influences the show. In his retelling of the famous Geek myths, Ovid intermingles humour, surrealism, romance and tragedy. The transformations that happen to his characters frequently take us by surprise, abruptly disrupting our expectations. Talk to the Hand reinvents and transforms personal and ancient myths.

Bea Bonafini is an Italian, London-based artist with an MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art (2016) and a BA in Fine Art from the Slade School of Fine Art (2014). She is working across painting, drawing, sculpture, textiles and installations. Her practice is interdisciplinary and often textile-based and socially engaged; inspired by confrontation in interpersonal relationships, ritual processes and notions of the sensual and the visceral. Solo and Two-person shows include Renata Fabbri Milan, Zabludowicz Collection, Lychee One, Post_Institute, The Rectory Projects, and Fieldworks Gallery. Group shows include the Italian Cultural Institute London by ARTUNER, Sans Titre  Paris, Galerie Bessières Paris, Joséde la Fuente Santander, J Hammond Projects, Roaming Projects, Marcelle Joseph Projects, Kingsgate Workshop, Pump House Gallery, Guest Projects and Gallery 46. Residencies include Platform Southwark Studio Residency (2018), FiBRA Colombia (2018), Fieldworks Studio Residency (2017), Villa Lena (2016) and The Beekeepers Residency (2015). Upcoming: Tender Touches, Open Space, AMP Gallery; Beaulieu-Maleki Residency and Commission, France; Solo Show, Galerie Chloe Salgado, Paris; BSR Residency, Rome; FiBRA Mexico Residency all 2019.

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Essay by Louisa Elderton