Today’s feature is the wonderful Bea Bonafini @beabonafini
Bonafini’s incredible work is tactile, intimate and intricate. She is currently working towards a solo show at Lychee One @ next year, and a residency at the British School at Rome.
“I want each work to speak its own language, connected to the rest and yet specific to itself. Some viewers told me they were struck by how differently they approached a work that allowed them to touch, sit, lie and walk on the work.”
“They told me their interaction with the work was more intimate and tender than what they’d been used to, and that meant a lot to me. I would perhaps like to be remembered for Il Trionfo, a 5metre wall-based carpet-tapestry that drapes across the floor, stretches up the ceiling, and depicts an abstracted and fragmented composition of Death arriving on a skeletal horse.”
We talk art world experiences, earliest memories, positive thinking, artist essentials and more!
Every artist has a story of how they became an artist. BEA, PLEASE TELL US YOURS.
My earliest memory of seeing someone make art was during a family trip visiting an Aboriginal community when we lived in Australia. I was about 4 years old, and soon after I painted over my body and began making dot paintings. It was an impactful first introduction to the ways in which painting can exist off canvas, integrating the body, and being produced in and from nature. When I dip into my childhood diaries I’m surprised by how keen I always was to be an artist. I knew that’s what would make me most happy in life.
THAT'S INCREDIBLE! so it was inevitable! What 3 words would you use to describe your artwork?
Intricate, Intimate, Tactile.
i'm fascinated working with female identifying artits to ask, What has been your experience of the creative world so far?
It’s been mostly positive, I’ve met and worked with some really supportive and active people who match my sensitivity and enthusiasm. But it’s also been a struggle at times, the lack of transparency and standardised rules means it’s hard to gauge what’s fair and when we’re being taken advantage of. You have to figure out the rules of the game by yourself when you finish art school, which makes it all unnecessarily more complicated.
i agree with that. positive, but there are clearly huge amounts of things to be changed. Can you tell us a bit about your process, and how each of your artwork comes to be?
When I start a new series of works I often feel like I’m in a dark room and need to redefine the space and then find my way out. I like the feeling of stepping into an unknown and being surprised along the way. Like I’m making up a new language, inventing new vocabulary, figuring out a new grammar structure that works for my needs at that moment. I enjoy building up a dialogue between different works, and seeing how new methods evolve.
Who or what are your biggest influences, and how do you find them? How do these come out in your work?
I’ve recently fallen in love with the writings of Anne Boyer and George Saunders, and their experimental writing around subjects of illness and death. In the last few years I’ve dived into funerary artefacts of the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilisation that was swallowed up by the Romans. There’s a freshness to the magic and mystery they carry. I get satisfaction from observing fragments of artefacts, there’s so much that’s been left unexplained and what’s lost is just as important as what’s there. There’s space for me to project my own visions onto them, and I can breathe new life into them through my work. I’m inspired by artists who have an oneiric and materially experimental approach, like Alina Szapocznikow, Enrico David, Francis Upritchard, Francesco Clemente or Luigi Ontani.
What do you want your work to say bea?
I want each work to speak its own language, connected to the rest and yet specific to itself. Some viewers told me they were struck by how differently they approached a work that allowed them to touch, sit, lie and walk on the work. They told me their interaction with the work was more intimate and tender than what they’d been used to, and that meant a lot to me. I would perhaps like to be remembered for Il Trionfo, a 5metre wall-based carpet-tapestry that drapes across the floor, stretches up the ceiling, and depicts an abstracted and fragmented composition of Death arriving on a skeletal horse.
What are your artist essentials? Where do you like to create the best?
Space, light, a wide range of tools, and mountains of different materials. I prefer to work alone in silent surroundings, in a space with tall ceilings and excellent daylight, ideally some outdoor space for messier work, and some great neighbouring artists to take breaks and chat with!
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m in a transition phase at the moment, leaving London after 10 years last year, and I’m now trying to build a new community and base across Paris and Rome. I’m working towards a solo show in London at Lychee One gallery next year, and I’ll be returning to finish a residency at the British School at Rome in the spring of 2021.
My dream project is to make a permanent large-scale installation in a public space, that can act as a kind of secular chapel.
What do you do for fun?
Watch South Park or Parks and Rec. or go to parks and read or run.
omg perfect - and What is your greatest indulgence in life/ guilty pleasure?
Cooking for hours in company and eating for hours in even bigger company, ending up in a dance party with my best friends.
Favourite historical female artist?
Artemisia Gentileschi, who went against all the odds.
Favourite current practicing female artist?
Who should She Curates interview next?
My best friend and painter Cecilia Granara.