ContiniArtUK is pleased to announce Cutting Edge a solo exhibition of British sculptor David Begbie MRBS. Famed for his iconic use of wire mesh, this exhibition will seek to explore the ever-changing relationship between beauty and the human form. Cutting Edge has been supported by Dr Vali of LMS Wellness who will be taking part in an ‘in-conversation’ with the artist to discuss the topic of beauty in the contemporary setting.
Choosing to work almost exclusively with the human form, Begbie’s sculptures are concerned with the ever-changing nature of beauty together with the shifting contemporary concepts of masculinity and femininity. Invariably each of his archetypal male or female subjects contain elements of the other, indeed some are distinctly androgynous. Through the meticulous shaping and bending of wire mesh sheets, Begbie has learnt to create immaculate human forms. Each body is perfectly contoured and proportioned, and depicts a contemporary understanding of perfection. Since graduating from the Slade School of Fine Art in the early 80’s, David Begbie has rightfully garnered the reputation as the leading figure of the wire mesh sculpting movement.
His work exists at the interplay of sculpture and light; the nature of the material that he has adopted allows him to create a perfect exterior, an exemplary figure; yet it has a secondary function of equal importance. The permeable surface of the wire mesh allows for light to pass through it, thus casting shadows on the walls behind the sculptures. These shadows can be easily manipulated and present us with an entirely new figure to the one sculpted by the artist. Proportions can be altered and distorted; serving to remind us that beauty is constantly changing. Whilst the surface of the figure may be considered beautiful in the present, the knowledge that beauty perception is ever evolving is, clearly addressed through this transient and shifting shadow cast behind the sculpture.
‘Cutting Edge’ celebrates the artist’s on going body of work from the 1980’s to the current day. Having exhibited internationally throughout his artistic career, David Begbie will, for the first time, present the viewer with an exhibition that clearly shows the development of his practice over an extended period of time. We see a distinct stylistic shift between early works, such as Figure & Apparatus (1987) and Male Nude (1988), to those of today, such as XPOSE 2 (2012) and Tu (2015). Early sculptures have been made with a much freer hand; a clear appreciation for the expressionists can be seen in these works. The proportions of the body are, in places, enhanced and distorted, yet never beyond recognition. In contrast to these loose, stylistic explorations into the nude form, we see Begbie’s practice becoming increasingly refined as time passes. The works of recent years are finished to an almost hyper-real level of sophistication. The sculptures appear as perfectly formed, they are proportionally immaculate, and highly suggestive of the modern conception of the ‘ideal’ body.
What David Begbie seeks to execute through his work is a delicate understanding of the highly complex notion of beauty, he presents us with a version of beauty that is relevant to the period in which the work was made. His works act as emblems of their contemporary time. Not only do they exist as physical, tangible objects, capturing a figure frozen in time; but the relationship they enjoy with light and the resulting shadows they cast serve as a reminder that the notion of beauty is one that has constantly evolved, and will continue to do so. Through these sculptures, and through Cutting Edge as a whole, we can understand the beauty of the human figure not as one monolithic concept in the here and now, but instead as it has been in the past, as it is in the present and as it can be in the future; through Begbie’s work we get a true understanding of beauty as fluid, subjective and ever changing.