Born in Edinburgh, Scotland David Begbie’s earliest memories and experiences as an artist are at the age of 13. Already talented, Begbie completed seven years at art school where he emerged with a unique sculptural technique and the beginnings of a new visual language using wire-mesh in 1977.
Since his graduation in 1982 he has worked almost exclusively with the human form, primarily sculpting in steel and bronze mesh but also producing mono-prints, etchings, ink and charcoal drawings mixed-media work and photographs. But it is for his distinctive wire mesh sculpture that Begbie is most renowned.
Since then his work has been exhibited globally and has been an enormous inspiration to many people, including architects, designers, photographers, world of theatre and dance and collectors as well as to other artists. His work has been imitated and copied worldwide and the quality speaks for itself.
The preoccupation with the human form as his subject stems from an early age, the fascination for reproducing figurative bodies in mesh has developed extensively over many years. David Begbie achieves fine sculpting detail of musculature and an aesthetic completeness of human form which has even been compared to Michelangelo and particular Rodin, even though his subject is often that of the partial or truncated figure.
Wire mesh is transparent – 90% thin air, yet it has as a much greater physical presence than any conventional solid sculpture. Begbie’s skill, perception, understanding and imagination are succinctly and economically contained within the confines of the simple shell that constitutes his sculpture.
The introduction of strategic lighting as an integral part of a particular composition has the most remarkable result where the combination of two and three dimensions, with the use of projected shadows, produces an optical fusion of image and object.
The introduction of strategic lighting as an integral part of a particular composition has the most remarkable result where the combination of two and three dimensions, with the use of projected shadows, produces an optical fusion of image and object. It is from this phenomenon that Begbie developed his flat steel, bronze and brass sculptures which are available in fine art limited editions. Begbie envisaged these works as existing and occupying a space between the three dimensional sculpture and the shadow itself, and in the process has created another new art form in two dimensions.
The limited edition sculptures (flat artwork) are a mixture of sculpture and photography: To produce one of the sculptures in flat steel panel, David must first have made a unique sculpture. Its photograph is then etched out of metal panel.
The portraits are even more of an amalgam of the two disciplines, with David using the mesh to hold the features together. This new art-form was developed in 2005 has enabled David to explore the potential of a single artwork, using colours and different formats to produce variations in mood and effect.
The real thrill of Begbie’s work is the experience of seeing it „in the flesh”, the sculpted bodies are powerful, erotic, tactile, and intimate. For the viewer this material adds intrigue yet is somehow familiar; when you first experience Begbie’s body sculptures you are curious to know how the perfection of form is achieved.
On looking further you become familiar with the properties of the medium - the wire mesh creates aliveliness and sense of movement that is further enhanced by the use of shadow projection with lighting.
Look again closely and you see that there is not even a skin, only a graphic delineation of one. In relation to the space it occupies, the catalytic effect a Begbie sculpture has, in any setting, given that it has no palpable substance or surface, is phenomenal.
Begbie says of his sculpture “each work is an entity which has a far greater physical presence than any solid object could possibly have because it has the power to suggest that it doesn’t exist.” You have to touch a Begbie to make sure it does.