IN THE STUDIO / Looking reality in the face: Iain Gale on the portraitist Tai-Shan Schierenberg
Tuesday 07 December 1993
'Commissioned portraits have driven me to despair. Painter and sitter is an artificial set-up. When I'm doing a commission I'm unable to let the paint do what it wants. I have to keep dragging myself back and saying, 'Look, there's someone sitting there'. So now I'm just painting my friends and family. They feel at ease.'
In the almost Existentialist power of the heavily worked pictures around his studio, Schierenberg defines his art in the tradition of Bomberg and Auerbach, even Freud.
'I find it exciting how Auerbach paints the same people again and again. What he does with the paint is exciting too. I'm into what paint can suggest. I'm not like Freud though. I don't want the paint to actually become flesh.'
Critics have remarked on affinities with Sickert. 'He's very dry in application. I like my paint jucier.' So it is to 'juicier', earlier sources that Schierenberg turns. 'Velasquez is so cool. Like him I paint thick - wet in wet. Realism, like that of Velasquez or Rembrandt is timeless and that's a fantastic challenge. In fact their painting is both realist and abstract. If you look close up into the eye of a Rembrandt portrait you can see De Kooning and Pollock. The paint has tension.'
Schierenberg acquired his fixation with the physical substance of paint both from his education at the Slade, and his childhood in Germany where he grew up on the Black Forest farm of his father, also a painter. The rural lifestyle of those years is recalled in the dead bird which hangs in his studio, also providing the clue to Schierenberg's real intention. He is re-inventing the intimism of Corot's late interiors and Degas's nudes. The latter is recalled in the small female nude study of the artist's pregnant wife, balanced on the studio mantelpiece, an essay in tenderness which reveals that behind technical preoccupations there lies a real sensitivity. 'For my next show I'm trying to do a series of paintings of people in relationships. In particular of my daughter and her best friend. But I'm being very cautious. The process of painting is about being human, and being open to all those things that make you aware of that.'
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
The battle for control of Stieg Larsson's £30m legacy
Arts & Ents blogs
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
- 1 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 2 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 3 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- 4 Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
- 5 Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
- < Previous
- Next >