Schierenberg is a painter of portraits. His impressive subject range runs from the great-and-good (as in the National Portrait Gallery’s celebrated study of Sir John Mortimer) to family and friends. But the portraiture, though central to the artist’s life and work, tells only part of the story.
William Packer has written an incisive and stimulating essay which explores and extols Schierenberg’s achievement – taking no short cuts, making no compromises, sticking to his personal commitment…to painting as painting. The artist himself has also written a revelatory account of his development as both painter and man.
Born into an artistic and peripatetic family, son of a Chinese mother and German father, Schierenberg creates memorable pen portraits of the experiences, people, art and ideas that shaped him and his work. His tales of St. Martin’s and the Slade are convincing but sometimes surprising – for instance, the invaluable lessons learnt from the rigorous Euan Uglow. But then Tai-Shan is an artist whose own work, he believes, has paradoxical roots: ‘I’m actually an abstract painter waylaid by the gratification of realism.’ The work abounds with painterly passion and vivid life – whether the subject is a small child, an unnamed sitter, an erotic nude, or one of the magical and important landscapes taken from the artist’s beloved Norfolk. The work is a tour de force, to which the book does full and enchanting justice.
This is the third edition of this book, printed in 2014.