David Begbie

The Sculptor "In The Flesh"

Bruce R. Lewin, Bruce R. Lewin Gallery, New York, New York

"David Begbie's sculptures have attracted more attention and have elicited more enquiries than any other artist's work in recent memory. He is at once a sculptor and a renderer of shadows - incredible drawings which aren't. Most other artists sculpt from the outside in, Begbie not only sculpts from the inside out but utilizes lighting to create dramatic shadows. "
ITEM Begbie-1
David Begbie :: Doubles
size 32"
ITEM Begbie-2
David Begbie :: Hiwire
size 45x9.5x6.5"
ITEM Begbie-3
David Begbie :: Back To Front
Back to front
size 27x14x7"
ITEM Begbie-4
David Begbie :: Standingman
size 28.5x10.5x7"
ITEM Begbie-5
David Begbie :: Face To Face
Face to Face
size 29"
ITEM Begbie-6
David Begbie :: Torso
size 38x14.5x8"
ITEM Begbie-7
David Begbie :: Dive98
size 24.4"
ITEM Begbie-8
David Begbie :: Backdrop
size 27"
David Begbie Biography
Timeline and Biography

1955 Born Edinburgh, Scotland

1975 Winchester School of Art, England

1977-80 Gloucestershire College of Art and Design (BA Hons), Cheltenham, England

1980-82 The Slade School of Sculpture. Post Graduate (H.D.F.A.), University College London

1993 Associate of The Royal Society of British Sculptors (A.R.B.S.)

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1955, David Begbie's earliest memories and experiences as an artist were at the ripe age of 13. "1 had to get a letter of permission from my parents so that I could go to evening classes where I was confronted with a naked live model for the first time - there was a flirtatiousness that existed between myself and one of the younger models - these experiences made a very lasting impression, particularly from the point of view of subject matter."
Already talented, Begbie proceeded to complete seven years at art school where he emerged with the unique sculptural technique - he had discovered the ability to work with steelmesh. Since his graduation in 1982, he has worked almost exclusively with the human form, primarily sculpting in steelmesh but also producing monoprints, etchings, ink and charcoal drawings and mixedmedia work. But it is for his distinctive steelmesh bodies that Begbie is most renowned.
The preoccupation with the human form as his subject stems from an early age, the fascination for reproducing figurative bodies in steelmesh has developed extensively over the last twenty years. Looking back at his early work, there is an element of crudity as he fashioned the flat steel grid into three dimensional form. Recently Begbie has achieved the fine sculpting detail of musculature and human form which has already been compared to Michelangelo and Rodin.
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 the steelmesh material adds intrigue yet is somehow familiar; when you first experience Begbie's bodies you are curious to know how the perfection of form is achieved. On looking further you become familiar with the properties of the sculpture - the wiremesh creates a liveliness and sense of movement that is further enhanced by the use of shadowplay with strategic lighting.
Begbie creates images of people in good physical condition - his bodies are the modern archetype, and this is why they appeal. "Individually people like one sculpture and not another, because often they're looking at the shape of the body or the sex of the body - they're choosing characteristics they like."

David Begbie Exhibitions, Awards, and Museum Collections


1984/85/86 Brompton Gallery, Knightsbridge, London

1986 Forum, Zurich, Switzerland, (OMS)
Navy Pier, Chicago, USA
Savacou Fine Art, Toronto, Canada
Simpsons of Piccadilly of London - Special
Collaborative One Man Exhibition
1987 Salama-Caro Gallery, Cork Street, London
I.C.A.F, Olympia, London (OMS)
1988 "Crucifix", Installation at Winchester
Cathedral, England
Henley '88 Festival, Henley On Thames,England (OMS)
1989/90/91 Salama-Caro Gallery, Cork Street, London
1990 Wates City Tower, London
1992-99 Gallery Differentiate, London
1993 Catto Gallery, London
1994 Fire Station Gallery, Sydney, Australia.
(Opened by Terence Meecham - Director of
The Powerhouse Museum, Sydney).
The Emporio Armani, Brompton Road,
London. Special Collaboration, one man
1994/5 Joel Kessler Gallery, Miami, Florida, USA.
1995 Magidson Fine Art, Aspen, Colorado, USA
Posner Fine Art, Santa Monica, California, USA
1996 Artopia, New York, USA
Hannah Peschar Gallery and Sculpture, Garden, Surrey
1997 The Festival of Erotica, Olympia
1997/8 Begbie Selected Retrospective, Early Work 1983-1991 and Recent Work 1997,
Gallery Differentiate, London


Galleria Natzionali de Arte Moderna, Rome, Italy
National Gallery Canberra, Australia
Museum Beelden aan Zee, Holland
National Gallery of Canada
Citibank, London
1989 Southwark Bridge Office Development, London
"Figure & Fountain"
1991 City Place House, London "Back to Front" Diptych & I'Venus"
1993 The Hyatt Carlton, London, 'The Peak Health Series'
1993 Natural History Museum, Primates Gallery,
permanent site for "Origins" Triptych Sculpture
1994 Cannons City Gym, London "Archetypes"
1996 Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
1997 The Hyatt Carlton, London, 'Swimmingtruncs'
1998 The Hyatt, Hamburg, 'Composure'
1999 Ladbroke Sporting Casino, London, 'Chance'


1979 Gane Travel Scholarship
1980 Elizabeth Greenshields Award. Canada

Read Global Art News August 1994 Featuring David Begbie


1982 Open studios, Wapping, London
Metro Show '82, London
Harrison McCann, London
M.A. Exhibition, Slade, London
Christies Inaugural Exhibition, London

1983 Metro Show'83, London
Brompton Gallery, London

1984 I.C.A.F., Barbican Centre, London
A.R.C.O., Madrid, Spain
Ward Jackson Gallery, London
Guildford Art Gallery, Guildford, England
Brompton Gallery, London

1985 Brompton Gallery, London
I.C.A.F., Barbican Centre, London

1986 I.C.A.F., Olympia, London
"Tristan", M.O.M.A. Palma, Mallorca -
Curated by Achille Bonito Olive
"Mandelzoom", CANINO, Italy - Curated by Antonio d'Avossa
II Ponte Galleria Edrice d'Art, Rome, Italy -
Collaborative Printmaking Project, Brompton Gallery, London

1987 The Young Variety Club of Great Britain, London
"The Male Nude Show", Salama-Caro, London
"The Rachael Papers" - special installation at Serpentine Gallery, London
Cinematography - filmed on location at Serpentine Gallery

1988 Young Variety Club of Great Britain, London "Juxtapositions", Salama-Caro Gallery, London I.C.A.F. Olympia, London

1989 "Australian Fashion, The Contemporary Art"
20th Century Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, London (special commission of mannequins and displays for thirty designers - curated by Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia)
Galleria 57, Madrid, Spain
Salama Caro Gallery,London

1991 Contemporary Art Fair, Los Angeles, USA
Salama-Caro Gallery, London

1992 Sarah Guinan Associates, London
Collet Champion, London
Variety Club of Great Britain, Christies, London
Philip Samuels Fine Art, St Louis, Missouri, USA
The Inventive Spirit, Autodrome, Brussels, Belgium
Gallery Differentiate, London

1993 International Art Fair, Miami, USA
Charles Whitchurch Gallery, California, USA
Arij Gasiunasen Fine Art, Palm Beach, FL. USA
20th Century Art Fair, Royal College of Art, London
107 Workshop Summer Show, Wiltshire, England
The Olympian Arts Exhibition, Centre Point, London
Masks' Exhibition, The West Soho Gallery, London
Gallery Differentiate, London

1994 Joel Kessler Fine Art, International Art Fair, Miami
Joel Kessler Fine Art, Miami, USA
Arij Gasiunasen, Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Bruce R. Lewin Gallery, New York, USA
SeaJapan Exhibition, Yokohama, Japan
Olympian Arts Charity Auction, Fine Art Soc. London
The Inaugural Grosvenor Place Fine Arts
Exhibition, Sydney, Australia
The Meridian Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
Gallerie Pierre Nouvion, Monte Carlo, Monaco
FIAC,Paris, Crane Kalman Gallery, (London),
Magidson Fine Art,Aspen, USA
Gallery Differentiate, London

1995 Joel Kessler Fine Art, Int. Art Fair, Miami, USA
Gallery Differentiate, London
Magidson Fine Art, Aspen, USA
Arij Gasiunasen Fine Art, Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Bruce R. Lewin Gallery, N.Y., USA
Posner Fine Art, Santa Monica, California, USA
Crane Kalman Gallery, London
Galerie Pierre Nouvion, Monte Carlo, Monaco
Gallery K, London
Artopia, N.Y., USA
London Underwriting Centre, London
Small Works, Gallery Differentiate, London
Tower Bridge Piazza Sculpture Expo'95,
London, Royal Society of British Sculptors
London Contemporary Art, London
Midsummer Art Fair, Galleries at Tower Bridge,London
Weiss Sori Fine Art, Coral Gables, Florida, USA
Miriam Shiell Fine Art, Toronto, Canada
Margaret Lipworth Fine Art, Boca Raton, USA
FIAC, Paris, Crane Kalman Gallery, (London)
The Associates Gallery, (The Assoc. of Photog), Lon.
Howard Russeck Fine Art, Philadelphia, USA

1996 Jorge M. Sori Fine Art, Int. Art Fair, Miami, USA
Made Flesh, Gallery Differentiate, London
Heatherley 150th Anniversary Exhibition,
The Mail Galleries, London
The Tresors Int. Fine Arts & Antiques Fair, Singapore
FIAC, Paris, Crane Kalman Gallery, (London),
National Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

1997 Artbook, London
The Catto Gallery, London
Solomon and Solomon Fine Art, Chicago, USA
Buschlen Mowatt Fine Art, Vancouver, Canada
The Glasgow Art Fair, Glasgow
The Sculpture Company, London
The Tresors Int. Fine Arts & Antiques Fair, Singapore
20th Cnt. Works On Paper, Jeremy Hunt Fine Art,London
Davies and Tooth, London
The Washington DC Int Fine Art and Antique Fair, USA
Hannah Peschar Gallery and Sculpture Garden
L'Age D'Or, Jeremy Hunt Fine Art, London
The Museum Annex, Hong Kong
Arthaus, Jeremy Hunt Fine Art, London

1998 Well Hung Gallery, London
ART 98, London, Jeremy Hunt Fine Art
Hannah Peschar Gallery and Sculpture
ART 98, London, The Lamont Gallery
Gallery K, The Kiss, London
'Diverse', International Art Consultants Ltd.,. London
Jeremy Hunt Fine Art, Air Gallery, London
Palm Beach Int. Art & Design Fair, USA
Crockham Hill Village Hall, Crockharn Hill, Kent
Galerij Pantheon, Knokke, Belgium
Glasgow Art Fair, Jeremy Hunt Fine Art
The Young Variety Club Of Great Britain
Catto Gallery, London
The Lamont Gallery, London
Salmon, London
Haus, Jeremy Hunt Fine Art, London
Marijke Raaijmakers Galerie, Holland
PAN, RAI Amsterdam, Madike Raaijmakers Galerie
Taylor Woodrow Property Management Ltd., London

1999 Lamont Gallery, London ART 99
Gallery K, The Kiss, London

Read Global Art News August 1994 Featuring David Begbie

David Begbie in Conversation
Conversation with the Sculptor "In The Flesh"

Q: Have you always had a preoccupation with the human form?

A: Yes, despite the trends during my Art School years for non-figurative, abstract, minimal and multi-media activities. There are two main reasons for this preoccupation:

1. Because I can only work on things and subjects which I have a feeling and passion for.
2. I like to be involved in what interests me, not necessarily what is fashionable and popular - therefore, my commitment as such
enables me to explore the possibilities extensively.

Q: Would you say you are not interested in current trends?

A: I take notice. It is possible that my art influences trends in some respects - this should be true of any contemporary activity which integrates into the culture. Trends are often inventions based on a desire for society to categorize - or in some cases a way of justifying plagiarism. In general artists work with a very individual approach.

Q: When did you first start working in Steel mesh, what year?

A: I discovered the particular properties of steel mesh in 1977 at art school, at that time, I was working with more conventional solid materials - such as: plaster, wood, bronze, stone and fiberglass casting.

One of the reasons wire mesh is in art schools is because it is the traditional material for armature (the structure used for plaster sculpture where chicken-wire composes the basic skeletal form).

At any one time I would see many unsophisticated armatures for plaster sculptures - I thought these were completely unappreciated as a potential art form and decided to reinterpret the guts of the sculpture, as I saw it - a strong and important statement in its own right. At the time, I had no idea that this observation would eventually be the basic 'armature' of my future work and career.

In my own work I was composing figurative sculptures in space frame structures (still present today), and unlike conventional compositions, I was screening off the object with semi-opaque materials such as: frosted glass and plastics, cloth and fabrics and, of course, steelmesh. It was during this period I discovered that steelmesh could be modeled to a degree of sophistication - you can imagine the excitement, when I merged the object with its diaphanous screen so that they become one statement. This was important for its sheer sculptural economy and stunning visual succinctness and has continued to be an inspiration for me since. The ideas I was working with then and am working with today sprang from the initial discoveries about the material at that time.

All visual media is about the transformation of an ordinary material (industrial, domestic or otherwise) into a language expressing and communicating in a way that no other medium can.

Q: What are the unique/special properties of the Steelmesh?

A: Firstly, the mesh is manufactured flat off the roll and is a uniform grid structure machined with a relentless integrity. When the mesh with all its lines stretch into three dimensions, it has the psychological effect of creating a completely new type of space -that is space which it newly occupies when stretched.

Secondly, it is transparent - 90% thin air, yet it has as much and possibly more presence than a conventional solid form.

Because of this, I have been able to introduce the use of lighting as an integral part of a particular composition, combining two and three dimensions by using shadows - an optical fusion of image and object.

Q: Do you sculpt a series of bodies or are they one off creations?

A: I often work on more than one at a time that is variations of the same idea. Working with more than one sculpture enables me to achieve subtleties in each individual version which would otherwise be lost if each facet was contained in one piece.

Basically it stops me from overworking one piece, so that I can bring out particular characteristics separately over several subjects. Therefore, each sculpture is obviously unique.

Q: Where do you study Human Form?

A: Sometimes I use models. I am generally very aware of people - body movements and expression. Artists develop a way of seeing for their own purposes. Good sources of day to day study are: social contact, working out in the gym, the use of photos, TV and video plus an unknown degree of subliminal intake. I am also inspired by the work of artists such as: Rodin, Michelangelo, Medardo Rosso, Egon Schiele, many other painters and obviously my contemporaries. My sources perpetually evolve along with my experiences.

Q: Would you say you have a preoccupation with Health and Fitness?

A: Yes, well not a preoccupation, I am very interested in anatomy and it is a way of learning how my own body works - not just functionally, but also how we express ourselves on every level through body language.

We confront the world with our bodies on many levels, what we individually look and feel like, and how we see each other, is astonishingly important.

I am interested in how partial figures/fragments can become powerful forms of expression. I often deal with heads and torsos, hands and feet separately, because interestingly, they can say very different and surprising things; particularly if you understand that a torso alone has its individual character, moreover a 'personality'.

Q: In the past you have been compared to Rodin, Medardo Rosso and Michelangelo, how do you feel about these comparisons now?

A: Obviously there are similar concerns, particularly as Rodin was the first and most successful artist to consciously use a fragmented form as his subject, he also went on to deal with emotional, physical, passionate and violent expression.

Using wax as his medium, Medardo Rosso has been an intriguing influence. The majority of his mature works appear 'softly eroded' or transformed as if by the elements and evocative of the mysterious workings of the imagination - half formed personalities from the deep subconscious.

I look to Michelangelo who was the exponent of exaggerated physical form (mannerism). This is because I often have to exaggerate physical features due to the inherent properties and the nature of working with steelmesh. My concerns are precisely contemporary in that I am transposing a modern industrial material, in a much wider context in today's society. My sculpture is completely different because of the nature of the material although the results do sometimes strike the same chords.

Q: Is this the reason for your success?

A: My work is successful because it is a fascinating mix of classical qualities with a contemporary material. It is sculptural economy and succinctness with an ebullience of content and subtlety. It is also a marriage of figurative and minimal art.

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