Bea Bonafini’s carpet works can be said to invert the architecture of classical fresco painting, laying the image down underfoot and admitting the viewer as a narrative companion; to step into the composition of the work is to navigate the formal details of the piece—lines and colours, forms and fabrics—in addition to positioning oneself as a subject of and within the frame. This intimate encounter channels the spiritually charged environments of religious sites, whilst employing the image not as a hegemonic, totalitarian presence, but situates it as a common ground. The hierarchical structures of religious doctrine are flattened and given new life as a shared history and a unifying cultural architecture.
In Aisha Christison’s works, the dreamlike spaces of the canvas are collaged and fragmented. At times the figures and symbols give way to psychological landscapes and still lives, in others the thematics and motifs of the Baroque are woven into theatrical tableau, and utilised with a contemporary coolness—images are repeated, stylised, and refined to a gestural incident. The room, however, need not be limited to a reading on purely art historical terms that equate artistic-architectural structures and the perspectival image to that of church and state. How might the exhibition be read as Giotto’s studio? His bedroom, perhaps? His tomb? Aisha Christison’s paintings take on a double-meaning: the relationship to the “space as construct” situates the images as central to its reading, they become singled-out, personal, and profound.
To enter a designated space, therefore, is to enter a private, social (and cultural) situation that is administered under alternative formalities. The soft bounciness of carpet, fibres between toes, the smell of a rug’s unblemished pile, the framed image, the repeated figure, and the landscape—all recall the sensual and memorial. It is through the material that the works become transcendent, creating archetypal encounters through content and construction.
Accordingly, Giotto’s Room inflects the intricate and immersive perspectives of classical fresco painting, it constructs a proximate and sensuous space that is grounded—instead of heavenly. Through Bea Bonafini’s floor-based work and Aisha Christison’s works on paper and canvas, the space is connected across surfaces; the architecture of the gallery space becoming constitutional to the work, as both support and framing device. The elaborate spaces and common ground of Giotto’s Room, therefore, centralises the subjective experience, creating a discrete, intimate rendering of the image.
BEA BONAFINI studied at the Slade School of Fine Art (2014) and the Royal College of Art (2016). Selected exhibitions include: Slick Submission (solo), Renata Fabbri Gallery, Milan (2018), Dovetail’s Nest (solo), Zabludowicz Collection, London (2017), Chambre Dix, La Hotel Louisiane, Paris (2018), Et Refaire Le Monde, Galerie Bessieres, Paris (2018), If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Roaming Projects, London (2018), Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour (On The Bedpost Over Night)?, J Hammond Projects, London (2017).
AISHA CHRISTISON studied at the Chelsea College of Art and Design (2012). Selected exhibitions include: If You Can’t Stand The Heat, Roaming Projects, London (2018), Terrasse 2017, Silicon Malley, Lausanne, Switzerland (2017), Night, White Crypt, London (2017), The Classical, Transition Gallery, London (2016), Américano Maison (solo), Barbican Arts Group Trust, London (2016).
CURATED BY LUCY VON GOETZ