GALERIE CHLOE SALGADO is pleased to invite you to Chimère, the first solo exhibition of BEA BONAFINI in France.
Taking a Delphic standpoint between the religious, the mythological and the fantastical, Bea Bonafini has created a series of baptismal fonts, narrative friezes, and assemblages of fragmented objects, that adopt the language of displaced artefacts, in order to shape new narratives.
For Chimère (or chimera), Bea invokes the elements of water and air, and employs an ancient marbling technique where porcelain is stained, layered, cut and recomposed repeatedly, to create patterns and distortions which remain unglazed.
Where chimeras are fusions of creatures, a chimera is also a thing which is hoped for but that is merely illusory. Throughout the show, human, aquatic and aerial creatures are interchangeable, and aspirations and dreams are capable of melting human physical and mental limits.
« Let us dream of becoming a worldly chimera for an instant. Because salvation is there: the dividing lines are broken, boundaries are blurred, borders overlap, identities are in motion. Everything passes, and the imagination is dressed in the beautiful neighborhoods of fluidity, while the dawn of a new consciousness advances and deposits its silt, fertile in possibilities.
The chimera transcends genera, species, kingdoms, and reconciles its opposers: in our trans, queer, hybrid era, the chimera is the banner of a new mythology with ancient roots. Bellerophon, the hero who ended the life of the creature with a lion’s head, a goat’s body and a snake’s tail, now attacks other chimeras, such as the separation between nature and culture, between man and woman, between human and animal.
The chimera fends off shields raised by those worried to see their perfect universe falter. It pierces the partitions– walls that reveal themselves to be paper– of categories necessary to address the real, and to subvert them, making them fail, and thus leaving a chance for multiplicity. At once human and animal without fully being one or the other, the chimera wreaks havoc. It remains an enigma and is like a charade: “First, I have… a woman’s bust, second … a fish’s body… third… wings…” In this, it testifies that everything is a construction and composition. It fights the shadow of a sterile rationality, and laughs at our fiction of the world order. Do we now say “against nature” by the way? The chimera disturbs, sometimes worried. In our post-humanist moment, the troublesome strangeness of the chimera then resumes all its power of interrogation - we have embarked beyond the void left by our shaken beliefs, sometimes dizzy.
With Chimera, Bea Bonafini leads us to surprisingly clear troubled waters, and the beauty of her works unfurls like the running water of a stream, like aqua vitae. I am another – the chimera quenches the otherness that flows continually within us. Hence the importance of air, water, flow, the fluid in the fountains, tears, the intermingling colors. The basins are receptables of an infinite spectacle of potential arrangements. From the cup, we drink water and dreams. The fountains are the meeting places of tales, fables, naked bodies surprised by a loving look, the resting of nymphs. Here, the acquasantiere quench a serene thirst, an iridescent thirst: that of the sacred rendered profane, that of a sweet fantasy in an arid world.
Every artist fabricates, forges their chimera. With tenderness, with care, Bea Bonafini tames the wild elements through the prism of her imagination, this queen of faculties, she whose tapestries reveal a taste for patchwork and blending. She seeks out new scents and pleasures with ancient gestures: demiurge, she kneads the earth and forms her creatures from porcelain; she cuts, removes and assembles her marmoreal puzzles.
Bea Bonafini thus mixes cultures and myths, fantastical and religious, and this syncretism becomes a chimera itself: with new fragments, she creates fossils, and the ensemble is surrounding by an archeological aura. In this bestiary, we perceive an Etruscan air, a Greek memory, a Buddhist meditation; we cross paths with the fairy Melusine, an eclipse of Matisse in a wing, the eyelids of a Madonna by Chagall.
René Char wrote, “Imagination consists in expelling from reality many incomplete persons, making use of the magical and subversive powers of desire, to obtain their return in the form of a completely satisfying presence.” Bea Bonafini does not caulk her sculptures, she leaves the implicit, holes, calls for air to allow the viewer to inject their dreams into the generously fragmented works. We contemplate them with the docile and collected eye of Hypnos. The wrinkling and frowning are conducive to pareidolia: we discover a face here, a silhouette there. In balance between the physical world of the day before the dreadful ease of slumber, one experiences the grace of such a trace, the tenderness of the virgin and child, of those chimerical mothers one can expect. Subtle notches become eyes of commas, and now the iris widens: it is the abandonment of a beautiful sleeper in her sheets of soothing colors.
Slumber is however fragile, like the membrane of a linden seed. These seeds draw a sleeping silhouette in a suspended bed, witness to the other dream life. It is also this heart stuck in its beat and in its porcelain, this trembling heart, this hummingbird heart that weighs no more than the casting of a star. Bea Bonafini captures the transient and the fugitive, and a great fragility emerges from all of the works. Even the head of a warrior, with a black profile, bends and a caressing hand remains suspended under his chin to welcome the tears. Even the armor is but love in suspension, and we must rid of it like the empty shell of a molt taking flight…
But why these tears? Would all of this not only be a chimera, a vain imagination, a crazy ideal condemning us to be inconsolable dreams?
We deceive ourselves by necessity– to each their own chimera. It deploys these fragile wings of clay, and invites lightness, gentleness, the alchemy of opposites, while touching the absolute. Because the chimera is in the image of desire, or the pierced barrel of the Danaïades: without ceasing, it must restart. All the tragedy of its beauty lies in its impossible end, in its insatiable thirst. Without a chimera, the world would have no meaning, and its only meaning is madness… So let's follow the flow, let's get some air: let's become chimeras. »
Translation by Katia Porro