Sculptor David Begbie working on a mesh sculpture

1955
Born Edinburgh, Scotland.

1975
Winchester School of Art, England

1977
Gloucestershire, College of Art and Design (BA Hons), Cheltenham, England

1980
The Slade School of Sculpture.
Post Graduate (H.D.F.A.), University College, London

1993
Associate of the Royal Society of British Sculptors (MRBS.)
italy Selected Critique
L’IMMATERIALITÀ DELL’ESSERE
Massimiliano Sabbion

" Tu vedi un blocco, pensa all’immagine:
l’immagine è dentro basta soltanto spogliarla.
Io intendo scultura, quella che si fa per forza di levare: quella che si fa per via di porre, è simile alla pittura: basta, che venendo l’una e l’altra da una medesima intelligenza, cioè scultura e pittura, si può far fare loro una buona pace insieme, e lasciar tante dispute; perché vi va più tempo, che a far le figure."

(Michelangelo Buonarroti)

Il corpo umano è il primo aspetto di indagine estetica e formale con il quale si viene a contatto, è la scoperta di sé della propria coscienza e conoscenza. È il confronto con il proprio Io e con il mondo esterno, con gli altri corpi, con gli altri esseri umani.
L'infante si tocca, si scopre e si svela e questa conoscenza primordiale si sviluppa poi in età adulta nel corpo che si plasma e cambia, fino alla fine della vita.
Con il mondo contemporaneo il corpo è sempre più considerato un tempio, un luogo di razionalità, turbamenti, dove linee sociali e culturali si fondono creando presenza e rappresentazione di ideali estetici e canoni ai quali fare riferimento.
Non esiste cultura dove il corpo non sia alla base dei pensieri estetici, morali e religiosi, croce e delizia quotidiana: è la comunicazione visiva e tattile che ogni giorno si insinua tra gli uomini.
E il corpo è il mezzo di indagine e di sviluppo per lo scultore David Begbie.
La fisicità materiale che traspare nelle sue sculture diventa l'esplosione di forme, di muscoli, di tensioni e di posture che riflettono l'uso di un corpo idealizzato, sia maschile sia femminile.
Da una parte la potenza del corpo mascolino, dall'altra la dolcezza delle forme plasmate nelle figure muliebri, il tutto creato con un materiale moderno e senza dubbio non nato per i canoni scultorei classici: la rete metallica, un prodotto industriale con una trama che lascia passare la luce e l'aria e rende in questo modo le figure eteree e immateriali, quasi spumose e leggere ma di contrappasso reali e fisiche con una loro presenza e carnalità.

La grande forza di interesse per l'anatomia umana traspare in ogni opera che si dota di personalità unica, pezzi irripetibili quelli creati dalle mani dell'artista che sono il risultato di molteplici studi fatti con modelli, osservazioni quotidiane, fonti che bombardano l'uomo moderno continuamente.
Il corpo è presente e parla attraverso fotografie, pubblicità, palestra, video, musica, cinema, teatro, danza, in maniera inconscia e subliminale oggi si è continuamente sottoposti all'esposizione del corpo umano.
Quella per il fisico, vista in maniera assillante e spesso ossessiva, è una caratteristica contemporanea dove si ricerca un corpo perfetto e ideale. In David Begbie tutto ciò si rispecchia e respira quasi per osmosi subliminale con un'idea di corpo fisico che rivive nell'immobile energia dalla quale scaturiscono le forme create.
Le posture dei corpi e il modo di comporre dell'artista rimandano alle sculture dell'antichità classica dove, remoti canoni di bellezza, si fondano con il tempo passato che ha lacerato i corpi e restituito sculture mancanti di gambe, braccia, teste lasciando cosi solo l'essenza del corpo stesso.
Il materiale, maglie di ferro e bronzo e reti metalliche, si lega in maniera indissolubile con l'idea di un composto contemporaneo industriale, che pone le opere in un contesto completamente nuovo capace di parlare un linguaggio che diventa la nota stilistica del "fare scultura" del nuovo millennio.
Altro elemento che si impasta perfettamente con l'opera finale è la luce, attraverso l'illuminazione si creano ombre che determinano un peso a opere che sono eteree, gusci vuoti che rimandano al corpo perfettamente forgiato.
La luce è la causa finale e responsabile che dà vita alle sculture dell'artista, assorbe ed espande, rimangono così i pieni e i vuoti, i riflessi e i giochi di luce che ne determinano un peso fisico reale arrivando a punte surreali nella realizzazione finale: è un corpo che si staglia nella luce e vive con le ombre modellate che si riflettono in superfici che sembrano muoversi e pulsare di vita.
Allo spettatore si richiede non solo di "vedere", ma di "guardare" cioè andare oltre il semplice meccanismo della visione.
Spesso la voglia di interagire con l'elemento creato si fa forte, sono forme delicate e potenti allo stesso tempo, viene voglia di abbracciare le sculture, di palpare l'immateriale perché quello davanti agli occhi di chi guarda è reale ma in antitesi è leggero e trasparente, come una nuvola creata di sola idea e pensiero, un'antimateria che si è conformata.

È comprensibile il rimando ad una grande attenzione alla scultura del passato, non solo citando il mondo classico e la bellezza dei corpi sagomati del mondo greco-romano, ma a tutta una serie di artisti ai quali David Begbie si è ispirato interessandosi all'aspetto formale in primis ma andando poi oltre attraverso lo studio espressivo, emotivo, fisico e passionale di scultori quali Michelangelo, Auguste Rodin, Medardo Rosso.
Da Michelangelo derivano le forme nervose ed esagerate tipiche del Manierismo che ha portato lo spettacolare superamento del corpo umano in forme da cui guizzano muscoli e torsioni che rendono il corpo vivo e superano la bellezza naturale.
Forme nervose che si ritrovano poi nell'arte di Egon Schiele e nelle composizioni studiate dei corpi e delle posture.
Auguste Rodin, del quale David Begbie ammira la capacità di modellare le espressioni e l'emotività che scaturisce nella forma, dalle sculture del maestro francese si ricava la concretezza delle carni che scatta nella rivelazione fisica dei caratteri dei suoi personaggi.
L'arte di Medardo Rosso, cosi intima e capace di solidificare il carpe diem Impressionista, si coniuga perfettamente con le ricerche di David Begbie, entrambi perseguono il fuggevole e delicato modellato intriso di aria e luce e anche per lo scultore contemporaneo valgono le parole di Medardo Rosso: " Niente è materiale nello spazio... noi non siamo che scherzi di luce: quello che importa in arte è far dimenticare la materia".

Se la materia si scorda davanti alle opere di David Begbie, non avviene invece con il risultato finale di riproduzione fisica corporea:" La mia preoccupazione è precisamente contemporanea nel fatto che sto trasponendo un materiale industriale moderno, in modo simile al Manierismo ma in nessun modo nello stesso stile di Michelangelo perché le mie influenze provengono da un contesto molto più ampio, nella società attuale. La mia scultura è completamente diversa a causa della natura del materiale, sebbene i risultati vadano a toccare le stesse emozioni.
I nostri corpi si confrontano con il mondo su molti livelli, quello che individualmente vediamo, sentiamo e apprezziamo, e come ci vediamo l’un l’altro, è sbalorditivamente importante".

L'emozione di un corpo riprodotto, secondo canoni estetici per mezzo di materie nuove, è lasciato vivere tra aria e luce ed è in questo modo la visione di uno sguardo che porta la scultura contemporanea verso nuove sperimentazioni, nuovi mondi, nuovi corpi.

1. B. FRIGERIO, Corpi esposti. Estetiche e anestesie nell’arte contemporanea,
Con-Fine Edizioni, 2001
2. S. O’REILLY, Il corpo nell’arte contemporanea, Piccola Biblioteca Einaudi, 2009
3. T. PLEBANI, A. SCATTIGNO N. M. FILIPPINI, Corpi e storia: Donne e uomini
dal mondo antico all’età contemporanea, Viella Libreria Editrice, 2002
4. F. POLI, La Scultura del Novecento, Editori Laterza, 2006
5. M. DE MICHELI, Twentieth Century Sculpture, Garzanti, 1992
6. G. LISTA, Medardo Rosso. Sculpture and photography, 5Continentes, 2003

united-kingdom Selected Critique:
THE IMMATERIALITY OF BEING
Massimiliano Sabbion

“You see a block, think about the image: It’s inside, you only
have to undress it. I’m referring to sculpture, that which requires
taking away and placing, it’s similar to painting: as long as namely
sculpture and painting come from the same intelligence, they can
be left together in peace, leaving aside many disputes; because
more time is lost on these, than on making figures. “
(Michelangelo Buonarroti)

SOLID AIR Soloexhibition 2015

DAVID BEGBIE:
THE IMMATERIALITY OF BEING
by Massimiliano Sabbion

The human body is the first aspect of aesthetic and formal investigation with which one comes into contact; it is the discovery of oneself, one’s conscience and knowledge. It is the contrast between oneself and the outside world, with other bodies, with other human beings.
An infant touches itself, discovers itself, reveals itself and this primordial knowledge then develops in the body that forms and changes in adulthood, until the end of life. In the contemporary world the body is increasingly considered a temple, a place of rationality and upsets, where social and cultural lines merge, creating presence and representation of aesthetic ideals and standards to refer to.1

There isn’t a culture in which the body is not at the basis of aesthetic, moral and religious thoughts, both a daily blessing and a curse: it is the visual and tactile communication alluded to every day by mankind2.
The body is also the medium of investigation and development for the sculptor David Begbie.

The physical material which shows through in his sculptures becomes the explosion of shapes, muscles, tensions and postures that reflect the use of an idealised body, whether male or female. On the one hand the power of the masculine body, the gentleness of the moulded shapes of the female figures, all created with a modern material which undoubtedly does not arise from the standards for classical sculpture: the metallic net, an industrial product with a weave which allows light and air to pass through making the figures ethereal and intangible, almost spongy and light but equally real and physical with their presence and carnality. The great strength of interest in human anatomy shows through in every work which is equipped with a unique personality, one-off pieces created by the artist’s hands that are the result of multiple studies done with models, everyday observations, sources that continually bombard Modern Man. The body is present and speaks through photographs, advertisements, the gym, video, music, cinema, theatre, dance, in an unconscious and sublime manner, today we are continuously subjected to the exhibition of the human body3. The physical aspect, viewed in an annoying and often obsessive manner, is a contemporary feature where one searches for a perfect and ideal body. In David Begbie this reflects and breathes almost by subliminal osmosis with the idea of a physical body living again in motionless energy from which created shapes arise. Body postures and the way the artist composes them refer to the sculptures of classical antiquity, where remote standards of beauty merge with the past that tore apart the bodies and returned sculptures with missing legs, arms, heads, thus leaving only the essence of the body itself.
The material, meshes of iron and bronze and metallic nets, are linked inseparably with the idea of a modern industrial compound, which places the works in a completely new context capable of speaking a language which becomes the stylistic tone of “doing sculpture “ in the new millennium.4

Another element that mixes perfectly with the final work is light, through lighting, shadows are created which give a weight to the works that are ethereal, empty shells that refer to the perfectly moulded body. Light is the final principle and responsible for giving life to the artist’s sculptures, it absorbs and expands, they thus remain full and empty, reflections and plays of the light that produce a real and physical weight arriving in surreal points in the final creation: it is a body that stands out in the light and lives with modelled shadows which are reflected in surfaces that appear to move and pulsate with life. The viewer is required not only to “see”, but to “look at” that is to go beyond the simple mechanism of vision. Often the desire to interact with the element created is strong, they are both delicate and strong shapes at the same time, you feel the desire to embrace the sculptures, to touch the immaterial because that before the eyes of the beholder is real but in contrast it is light and transparent, like a cloud created by one idea and thought, an antimatter that is moulded. Understandably, the reference to the great attention of sculpture of the past, not only citing the classical world and the beauty of the Greek-Roman shaped bodies, but a whole host of artists to which David Begbie was inspired by an interest in formal appearance in the first place but then going beyond the expressive, emotional, physical and passionate study of sculptors such as Michelangelo, Auguste Rodin and Medardo Rosso5.
From Michelangelo, sinewy shapes and exaggerated forms typical of Mannerism were derived, that led to a spectacular overtaking of the human body, in which muscles and contortions made the body alive and went beyond the natural beauty. Sinewy shapes are found again in the art of Egon Schiele and in studied compositions of bodies and postures. Regarding Auguste Rodin, David Begbie admires his ability to model the expressions and emotionality that arise in the form, from the French master’s sculptures the concreteness of flesh is acquired that starts the physical revelation of his characters’ personalities.

Medardo Rosso’s art, so intimate and able to solidify the carpe diem Impressionist, blends perfectly with the research of David Begbie, both pursue the fleeting and delicately modelled incorporation of air and light, and the words of Medardo Rosso also apply for the contemporary sculptor: “Nothing is material in space ... we are nothing but tricks of light: what matters in art is to let the material be forgotten.” 6

If the material is forgotten in front of David Begbies’ works, it’s not the case with the end result of the physical and bodily reproduction. “My concern is precisely contemporary in the fact that I’m transposing a modern industrial material, in a similar way to Mannerism but in no way in the same style of Michelangelo because my influences come from a much broader context, in today’s society. My sculpture is completely different due to the nature of the material, even though the results invoke the same emotions. Our bodies are compared with the world on many levels, that which we individually see, feel and appreciate, and how we see each other, it’s staggeringly important.”

The emotion of a body reproduced, according to aesthetic principles by means of new materials, is left to live in air and light and it is in this way the vision of a look that brings contemporary sculpture to new experiments, new worlds, and new bodies.

1. B. 1. B. FRIGERIO, 1 B. FRIGERIO, Exposed Bodies. Beauty and Anesthetics in Contemporary Art, Con-Fine Edizioni, 2001
2. S. O’REILLY, 2 S. O’REILLY, The Body in Contemporary Art, Piccolo Biblioteca Einaudi, 2009
3. T. PLEBANI, A. SCATTIGNO N. M. FILIPPINI, Bodies and History: Women and Men from the Ancient World to Contemporary Times, Libreria Editrice, 2002
4. F. POLI, Twentieth Century Sculpture, Editori Laterza, 2006
5. M. DE MICHELI, Twentieth Century Sculpture, Garzanti, 1992 6. G. LISTA, Medardo Rosso. Sculpture and photography, 5Continentes, 2003

united-kingdom Selected Critique:
LORELLA PAGNUCCO SALVEMINI
“The search for perfection represents the most evident link between the Scottish artist’s works and the ancient sculptures.

Even if the technique is different, tension and creative drive are at the base of the processing and defining of the material in all its aspects; this situation is the same found in the great masters of the past.

The use of hand-worked steel mesh makes Begbie╩╝s sculptures unique and unmistakable: shapes of powerful men and women, almost endowed with carnality but at the same time ethereal and elusive. These bodies are sometimes headless. Anonymous busts, arms and
legs devoid of identity remind the audience of the convulsive torsions of Michelangelo╩╝s Prigioni. Frozen bodies are longing for freedom, almost attempting to rescue their soul from the jail of a life, where what you look like is more important than what you are. ”

Lorella Pagnucco Salvemini
united-kingdom Selected Critique:
MARINA VAIZEY
"David Begbie is a sculptor, draughtsman and printmaker whose materials and media are unusual but whose preoccupation - the human figure, and indeed by implication, the human condition - is ancient. The first known paintings, the cave paintings of southern France, are of living creatures, animals in the main; even older however, are the first known sculptures: a very plump female in limestone, and a man in ivory, both from Central Europe. The survivors - (and characteristically sculpture has a potential for survival denied to painting) - are associated with the art of the hunters, rather than with the more settled art of the farmers appearing substantially later. The famous dictum of Pope's turns out to have been shared throughout the millennia, even if man and woman were dressed up or rather down, in the sense of being naked and observed - as a deity.

In the face of all creeds and isms, the most persistent motif - man is the measure of all things - characterises the formulation of imagery for all of human history. (Abstraction is bold, because it emphasises human absence the more powerfully in some instances to recall the human presence.) Therefore, in one sense, what is there still to say or show?

David Begbie's human and humane art does demonstrate in contemporary terms that the human figure is inexhaustible as an inspiration in itself, and as a way of saying all kinds of things about art - and life - now. First of all there is the refinement of the material. In the case of the three-dimensional figures, Begbie confounds sculptural preconceptions - particularly when related to figurative work. We are accustomed to seeing the figure carved in stone or cast in bronze, however we are also used to an enormous variety of material in the revolutionary formulations for sculpture so characteristic of this century. In a curious way, the figure itself is the last bastion. David Begbie does not, it seems to me, use the novelty of steel mesh and now copper, simply for its own sake. Rather, it is an extension and amplification of an earlier avant-garde - Julio Gonzalez, say, and his drawing in space with his welded metal sculpture. Their technical insights and expansions of possibilities were and are quarried by artists who have tended to abandon overt representation for a more oblique view of the world around us, relying more on an inner vision, a sense of constructing from within.

I do not believe that David Begbie's seemingly accurate (although they are not; artistic licence is subtly, imaginatively and interestingly at work) visual mediations on the human figure and face could in fact have been created with out the liberty afforded to artists by photography and its apparent faithfulness to the observed world (although we know that fidelity to be false as well). Nor could the evolution and development of his highly individual idiom have taken place without the freedom afforded figuration by abstraction.

For the figures here - hieratic, startling and monumental on paper, airy, light and even playful in three dimensions - are curiously ambivalent and mysterious, even at times androgynous. There are strongly masculine bodies, and studies which are inescapably feminine, and sometimes tantalisingly close to pin-ups, to the pointed bosoms of war time girls, Vargas, and in the current London art spectrum, there is an oblique relationship to the art of Allen Jones. Indeed, Begbie's flirtation with Kitsch adds another element of risk-taking to his art.

On one hand we have the monumental, the dignified, the awesome. We also see in his work the intimate, the affectionate. The use of shadowplay, the shadows cast by his figures, is an element that helps to convey liveliness, a sense of movement. There is also the nearly abstract, the refinement, especially in the works on paper, whether monoprints, Monoprints collages or drawings - into a paradigm of the figure, a pattern of outline shaded in with varying textures, and a rich sense of colour although all is black and white and the greys in between.

The artist captures too that sense of interest in the body that is characteristic of western culture. There is the awareness of health, of 'good' bodies; a feeling that we must rescue our bodies from the ill usage caused by the activities of the modern consumer world. People pay attention to their bodies, some even spend time and effort in building their bodies, a sport some claim as art.

Effective art must be of its time, as well as containing within it some understanding of tradition and the past. David Begbie's art is exhilarating and fascinating precisely because he deals directly with a subject that could not be more ancient and traditional, but does so in ways that are only possible now. He uses traditional and invented techniques. He uses the human form, but in his art mediates it into a series of works, highly individual, that communicate a recognisable, emotionally authentic and affecting interpretation that is his own. 1993
united-kingdom Selected Critique:
JOHN RUSSELL TAYLOR
"In some of his recent work Begbie has been exploring this theatrical element a little further, bringing figures together in conflict or coition, setting faces in ambiguous relation to one another, taking on different constellations of meaning as you move in relation to them. He could, one imagines, do a wonderful Gate of Hell for himself, but he would also be better equipped than Rodin to match an Inferno with a Paradise of ethereal light and grace. Certainly there seems to be no limits to his technique as long as there are no limits to his imagination. And of that there is no perceptible danger for a very long time to come. He is the master of his own floating world, where everything is as simple and as difficult, as once for all, as a classical Chinese brush drawing. Like all true art, it is half stage magic, the confidence trick the magician finally believes in, and half-real, inexplicable magic. Stage magic can make illusions seem actual for a moment, but only magic can ensure that they obstinately stay with us, capable of being explained, but never explained away." 1988
united-kingdom Selected Critique:
SIR LAWRENCE GOWRING
"As he is a splendid sculptural draughtsman, the shape is exquisitely outlined. It has the rightness and the adjustment to observation, which in their absence we always miss in visual art. The steel mesh that makes these bodies also constitutes their imaginative clothing. It creates and iridescent fabric, with a fluttering sheen that is wantonly voluptuous, harsh yet silky, both at once. David Begbie weaves for imperial nakedness an optical garment, which is more illusory and stylish than ever." 1984
united-kingdom Selected Critique:
MARY ROSE BEAUMONT
"If one envisages the human form in sculpture one perhaps first thinks of it being carved in marble, since we all still wear what Henry Moore once referred to as 'Greek spectacles'. Alternatively one might reflect on Donatello's DAVID which is arguably the most beautiful sculpture ever made. Or, perhaps nearer to our own time one thinks of Rodin's powerfully modelled figures - and here we are getting closer to what David Begbie is seeking to create: an incomplete portion of the human body, a part which speaks eloquently for the whole. The foregoing examples are of the human body carved or modelled, solid either absorbing or reflecting light. Begbie has explored a further range of possibilities - his figures are transparent, made of wire mesh, modelled painted and galvanised: the light both ripples on the surface and passes right through them. The effect is of a presence that is not quite of this world. It is real, but also surreal." 1984
united-kingdom Selected Critique:
EDWARD LUCIE-SMITH
"His work is quite unlike anything else being done at the present moment. His figures and figure-fragments are moulded from fine wire mesh. These materials turn out to be extraordinarily sensitive: Begbie is able to shape it with his hands to produce the illusion of rippling musculature. He makes it seem as sensitive and pliable as wax. But the mesh provides a whole range of other effects as well - the sculptures become translucent - they are simultaneously there and not there. In this new series of works, Begbie has become much bolder - the figures are deliberately fragmented, metal armatures are used to 'draw' with, so that the spatial interaction becomes more complex. Every time the viewer shifts position, a new set of relationships appear. The fascinating thing is that these relationships remain coherent." 1986
spain Solo Exhibition David Begbie
AM GALLERY, Almeria
El escultor David Begbie (1955, Edimburgo) reúne en la Galería almeriense Ana Mercader una serie de obras elaboradas en malla de acero. La muestra, que lleva como título “Unud”, nos ofrece piezas muy físicas y tangibles que, sin embargo, generan sombras intocables y muy sugerentes. Proyecciones que tienen una gran importancia en el trabajo de Begbie y que desprenden erotismo y fragilidad.

Todo lo que vemos es real –o quizás no-. Begbie esculpe en malla de acero; sin embargo, su material resulta ser la sombra, materia intocable. Sus obras parecen muy físicas y presentes, aunque la malla de acero sirve como una forma indirecta para lograr una impresión de la realidad. La imagen tangible es elaborada de forma sugerente, a veces exageradamente, para que la proyección sea la versión verdadera o que por lo menos tenga iguales derechos. “A diferencia de las composiciones convencionales, experimenté en la Escuela de Bellas Artes a tamizar un objeto con los materiales semi-opacos, tales como la malla de acero. Fue durante este periodo que descubrí que la malla de acero podía ser modelada hasta llegar a un grado de sofisticación –puede imaginarse la emoción, cuando uní el objeto con su proyección diáfana, de modo que ambos se convierten en una declaración”. Erotismo, fragilidad, perfección, vitalidad e incluso cánones y nuevos estilos de relaciones sociales en la sociedad contemporánea son algunas de las impresiones del espectador ante las obras de David Begbie.
netherlands In Gesprek met David Begbie JORIS VAN LOON
IN GESPREK MET DAVID BEGBIE
METAAL WORDT MENSELIJK
‘Ik ben een uitvinder en een maker. Iets creëren dat nog niet bestond geeft een ongekende creatieve ervaring’

Many thanks to gallery Van Loon and Simons, Biennale Brabant 2012

De Schotse kunstenaar David Begbie brengt met zijn staalgaassculpturen een ode aan het menselijk lichaam. Hij speelt met het idee van schoonheid en perfectie waarmee we onszelf en anderen zien. ‘Het harde en zachte van het staalgaas verbeeldt menselijke relaties.’

Wat vindt u zo bijzonder aan het menselijk lichaam?
‘Het is een natuurlijke en passionele reactie op het leven zelf. Het iconische beeld van een naakt mens kan de kwaliteiten van het leven tonen. Het is ook een archetypisch beeld van erotische schoonheid. Beeldhouwen is een populaire kunstvorm, omdat er ontzettend veel menselijkheid in het werk zit. Dat menselijke aspect probeer ik verder uit te diepen door op een subtiele manier relaties tussen mijn sculpturen te laten ontstaan. Het harde en het zachte van het staalgaas zie je terug in menselijke relaties. Je ziet spanning en harmonie. Zo maak ik de metalen menselijk.’

U creëerde een eigen visuele taal, leg dat eens uit.
‘Ik werk met een compleet uniek medium, een kunstvorm die ik zelf heb bedacht. Het spelen met belichting vergroot de beleving van het kunstwerk. Door het strategisch plaatsen van lichten, krijgt het niet alleen een driedimensionale, maar ook een tweedimensionale sculptuur. Een live dimensie die niet te vangen is op beeld. Je moet er voor staan om de echte energie te kunnen voelen. Het is moeilijk om te zien of het werk rond of plat is als je er op een afstand naar kijkt. Pas als je dichtbij komt zie je de ware vorm van de sculptuur.’

Hoe maakt u de sculpturen?
‘Ik zie het als een mix tussen tekenen en beeldhouwen. Beeld je duizenden lijnen in, maar dan driedimensionaal getekend met staalgaas, of tweedimensionaal verweven. Ik maak alles met de hand, buig het materiaal en rek het uit. Dat is geen eenvoudig proces, het kost veel inbeelding.’

Hoeveel tijd bent u kwijt aan één sculptuur?
‘Dat is lastig te zeggen. Kleinere stukken maak ik in twee dagen. Bijna als een tekening; snel en spontaan. Momenteel ben ik bezig
met een gigantische, twee meter hoge Boeddha voor in de nieuwe Buddha Bar in Londen. Daar werk ik nu al twee maanden aan, maar niet continu. Voor hetzelfde geld begin ik morgen aan een werk dat dertig jaar in beslag neemt.’

Maakt het kunstenaarschap u gelukkig?
‘Zeer. Ik begeef me in de gelukkige positie dat ik nooit iets anders heb gedaan. Vanuit de kunstacademie ben ik meteen opgepikt door een galerie. Het grootste voorrecht vind ik de vrijheid waarmee ik mijn tijd kan indelen. Ik leef mijn leven hoe ik kies om het te leven. Ik ben een uitvinder en een maker. Iets creëren dat nog niet bestond geeft een ongekende creatieve ervaring.’

Is het erg als mensen uw werk kopiëren?
‘Ik zie het als een compliment. Ik inspireer veel mensen in de kunstwereld. Niet alleen degenen die mij nadoen, maar ook fotografen, architecten en muzikanten. Zo werk ik nu samen met een violiste. We werken allebei met snaren, maar dan andersoortige. We proberen met mijn sculpturen een visuele connectie met haar muziek te maken. Of dat slaagt durf ik nog niet te zeggen.’

Hoe zorgt u ervoor dat uw werk onderscheidend blijft?
‘Wat mij echt onderscheidt, is dat ik direct met het medium werk. Ik gebruik geen mallen en er gaan geen industriële processen aan vooraf. Ik verlies dus niets van de originele expressies, het gaat direct van mijn geest, naar mijn handen en naar het staalgaas. Dat maakt mijn sculpturen energiek en verfrissend.’
italy Selected Critique:
ENZO SANTESE
La Galleria Ramires Maro al centro di un’importante kermesse di scultura internazionale.
"NYB 12" (New Years Brunch 2012, Sculpture net work

La Galleria Ramires Maro dilata il suo spazio fisico su tutto lo scenario internazionale in occasione del NYB 12 (New Year’s Brunch 2012), collegandosi in rete con altre gallerie di 15 Paesi: è così che il 15 gennaio si è creata una fitta ragnatela di comunicazioni visive tra luoghi espositivi diversi, aprendo in tempo reale le porte su istituzioni che dall’Austria al Bangladesh, dal Belgio alla Bulgaria, dalla Germania alla Gran Bretagna, dall’Italia all’Olanda, dalla Polonia al Portogallo, dalla Russia alla Spagna alla Svizzera, hanno innescato una densa dinamica di relazioni che hanno messo a confronto molte decine di artisti. Io ho assistito a tutto questo nella suggestiva Galleria Ramires Maro che, dislocata nel verde di una natura generosa e mutevole, ha ospitato presenze di sicuro rilievo qualitativo e spessore poetico. D’altro canto non meraviglia che questo sia stato un evento davvero notevole in mezzo a tutti gli altri eventi del NYB 12.

Nella rassegna merita una citazione particolare l’artista inglese David Begbie per il quale il corpo umano, la figura esprime l’idea di un pieno (il corpo) che si fa vuoto perché l’opera è modellata su una rete che lascia passare lo sguardo attraverso la fisicità reticolare della materia. E la fonte luminosa proietta l’ombra della figura sulla parete, di modo che l’ombra stessa diventa parte integrante del’evento scultoreo. Il tratto simbologico della ricerca di Begbie sta anche nel considerare la figura umana come un involucro di sentimenti ed emozioni, che possono essere visibili anche all’esterno, dato che il corpo plastico lascia che lo sguardo lo penetri e lo attraversi...

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Sculptor and Technique
David Begbie discovered the particular properties of steel- and bronze mesh as an art student in 1977. 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.
Background
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.
Wire Mesh - Steel and Bronze
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.
Steel / Brass / Bronze Panel
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.
Wire Mesh Sculpture 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 a liveliness 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.