Bea Bonafini is an Italian artist, currently based in London. Bonafini completed a Master of Fine Arts in Painting last year; she has been exhibiting work throughout her studies, and has continued to be active in the art world, with her latest exhibition, Dovetail’s Nest. The site-specific installation is on view at the Zabludowicz Collection’s space in London until 9 July. The exhibition space has a unique past; it is not the customary white-walled cube, but a place rich in history. The space was originally a Methodist church, built in the late nineteenth century, which was later taken over by London Drama School’s method acting classes, before being bought and restored by Zabludowicz Collection.
Bonafini lets the history of the gallery seep into her work. She unites her Italian background with her present location, London, in the floor work that fills the space. The mottled carpet appears to be abstract at first, but soon, fragments of figures emerge. A foot here, a leg there. The Siena Duomo’s own marble floor piece serves as inspiration for Bonafini’s forms. The 15th century work depicts a battle, a tangle of soldiers and bodies that has been rubbed away by the feet of devotees and tourists throughout the centuries. Bonafini uses these visuals as a springboard, combining religious remnants with carpet, a signal of domesticity. Wooden church pews line the walls. On the far wall hangs a painting titled “Proposition for a Non-religious Chapel II.” Loosely echoing the shape of the Maestà, or an altarpiece, the painting depicts linked organic forms and stalactites in washed out primary colours. The work’s title gives a clue to the rest of the installation. With the references to a church’s floor, the elongated caricature of a throne-like sculpture that stands in the middle of the room, and the pews — all of these pieces add to a possibility of what a space built from religious elements might be, but free from religious faith, could look like. The artist creates a strange place of worship with no deity in sight. Instead, a faded pastel colour palette transports the viewer to a place in-between states.