Born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1955 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 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 mixed-media work and photographs. 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’s perception, understanding and imagination is what is succinctly and economically contained within the confines of the simple shell which constitutes his sculpture. 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. He 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.