The Protagonist Exhibition at Contini Art UK
In Juxtaposition with Sculptures by David Begbie
Written by Gülnaz Can
The Protagonist Magazine launched its 3rd issue and celebrated its long-standing partnerships with Lalique and Contini Art UK with an event of art, fashion, music, friendship, and other inspirations and delights.
For this night only, Contini Art UK staged a two men show, which showcased David Begbie sculptures on one side, and on the other, photography by Ram Shergill. The concept of the night was thought out by the creators of the magazine, Daen Palma Huse and Ram Shergill.
The downstairs gallery of Contini Art UK, on New Bond Street, was filled with bodies. Begbie’s metal mesh figures were standing or hanging in the large gallery space, reflections of their forms expanding on the walls and on visitors with the help of the lighting. The figures were headless or faceless, but felt almost real, almost wanting you to touch the wall to feel their non-reality. The movement and sometimes the heaviness of motionlessness of the sculptures felt tangible. As the juxtaposition, The Protagonist Magazine’s images were confrontational; figures were looking into the eye of the audience and telling us that there was more to see behind the picture. Or, was this what I feel because I knew that some of those pictures would be on the cover of a magazine? Where Begbie’s sculptures tell a story of simple human bodies, Shergill’s bodies talk to us, talk to each other and give signals of a cultural before, now, and after their existence. A completely nude man with his hair waxed, sitting elegantly on a 19th century chair in a 19th century dining room... Can a man be a Dandy without being dressed so?
Both of the artists’ works, though, represent singleness and togetherness, even when we try to see them separately. Where Shergill and creative director Palma Huse used mirrors to reflect the image of their models and thus creating new and different/distorted models through the reflections, Begbie uses light and shadow to create different dimensions to a body, which he had created as a sculpture. Even the most singularly standing body in this exhibition has a reflection and has an impact of expanding beyond their phenomenological beings.
Bodies and what they become, as well as what they produce were at the centre of this event. The latest issue of a magazine comprised of art, fashion, history, reviews, fiction, illustration, products of nomadic cultures and much more was presented and introduced to an audience from different backgrounds.
The event had surprises in store of other artistic work, directly presented from the artists’ very own bodies. The performance of mezzo-soprano Nancy May singing allowed us to observe every little muscle in her face to gently but eagerly move to give the tone its resonances, seemingly not changing a bit of her facial expression. There was no pressure from the singing work onto the mood in the face. We were left just to be mesmerised, not able to blink once. As if the brilliant singing, the voice was generated somewhere outside of the singer’s body, somewhere between her and our bodies. As if her voice didn’t come from a deep blood, flesh, fat, water, muscle and bone structure kept together by skin, by hitting several walls of an inner body.
In another performance, an almost nude man came to the stage with his orange inflatable arms. These arms were used for making one of the brilliant covers of the new issue of the Protagonist Magazine – namely the designs of talented designer Jack Irving. When the model appeared on the stage, the crowd was so speechless and besides being hypnotised by the moves of the man with many orange pointy-ended arms, we could hear the motor of the inflator very well. It was something like a song of a beetle while making love.
It was a well-enjoyed night of bodies meeting bodies, voice, music, laughter, look, sensation, style, and culture.
The Protagonist Magazine is available online from www.boutiquemags.com or at many stockists worldwide. The magazine is printed on Conqueror paper supplied by Arjowiggins.
Kind thanks to PressON UK, who supported the exhibition and printed all artworks – including prints on mirror and brushed silver.
Special thanks to: Contini Art UK, Rafia Willmott at Eliane who provided vegan food, Frederick Fischer at Lalique for a wonderful raffle, Yana Uralskaya at Visual Couture and Ilona Pacia at Villa di Geggiano.