7 August 2017

5 Questions with Bea Bonafini by Rosalind Duguid

5 Questions with Bea Bonafini by Rosalind Duguid

“Even if we don’t believe in a supernatural God, there is no reason why secular society should not have spaces of beauty purely dedicated to thought and reflection, and I don’t mean galleries or museums.” Bea Bonafini is a sculptor, textile and multimedia artist whose work celebrates the spaces that bring people together.

In her most recent exhibition at the Zabludowicz Collection’s Invites space, Bonafini took over the building’s side chapel with muted tones and undulating shapes. A dysfunctionally tall wooden chair stood elegantly over an intricate (and oh-so-soft!) handmade carpet, whilst the large pencil drawing Proposition for a Non-Religious Chapel II hung, altar-like, on the end wall. With her command of colour and texture, Bonafini manages to introduce a serenity into a space that allows viewers to contemplate, questioning their relationships to others and the spaces they inhabit.

In your recent installation Dovetail’s Nest, you carpeted the whole of the Zabludowicz Collection’s side chapel with a piece inspired by the marble floor of the Siena Duomo. Can you tell me a little more about this work and the process of making it?

The beauty of the Siena’s floors lies in seeing skillfully cut marble shapes come together to compose narrative scenes of great complexity. Where the details have worn away, the image left behind dances between figuration and abstraction. I wanted to maintain this aspect of a horizontal picture that is overwhelming, that you can walk over and around, offering many more physical perspectives.

The process was physically challenging but exhilarating. After a series of technical drawings, the carpets were cut in undulating patterns and reassembled. Working on the reverse side, figures of fallen soldiers, horses, animal and human limbs, batons and shields were cut out from one end of the carpet and swapped with an identical cutout on the other side. Each figure therefore appears twice, always in a different configuration, mimicking the mirror-aspect of a battle. The swapping of figures allows shapes to emerge, while creating a dynamic whereby one side is effectively fighting itself.

Your sculptural work often references furniture but is sometimes functional and sometimes not. Do you feel it’s important for your work to be activated by viewers?

It is important for my work to have an intimate physical connection with viewers, but sometimes it’s enough for it to exist in their minds. The great thing about furniture is that it inhabits our most intimate space: the home. I can use carpet to evoke a mentality of comfort and domesticity, or use the structure of a coffee table to bring to mind social connections. But I want the way these objects are encountered to shift fluidly from one show to the next, depending on what suits the context.

Read the full article here