February 09, 2013

Maybe Painting Has Died After All

Paintings by George W. Bush went viral after a hacker exposed them.

Unlikely as it sounds, former president George W. Bush is apparently a Sunday painter. Several of his works were recently brought to light when a hacker broke into the Bush’s family email account.

The paintings are two self-portraits – one of him looking at himself in a bathroom mirror and the other is a point-of-view of himself in the bathtub looking down at his body.

Who knew that after eight years of being the most powerful man in the world he would turn to painting? It’s possible that he was painting all along but never told anyone. It’s not so unusual really – after all, many world leaders have turned to art at some point to express themselves. Winston Churchill, favored landscapes, Dwight D. Eisenhower, painted landscapes and portraits, while Prince Charles who mostly paints in watercolors generally donates his paintings to charity auctions.

But George Bush –  his paintings – at least the ones we’ve seen –  are so strange that they remind me of several things that are completely unrelated, like a surrealist poem. Crudely copied early David Hockney paintings. Ophelia’s drowning scene in Hamlet (and the John Everett Millais painting of it). Michael Jackson’s hit song Man in the Mirror. All of those come to mind. The paintings of Sylvester Stallone come to mind as well.

Of course, others have responded to them in different ways. Hrag Vartanian from the legendary New York art blog Hyperallergic said this:

Maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that the man who brought us a vision of compassionate conservatism would turn to art to express the angst of a crappy Presidency that got us into two wars, used homophobia, racism, and sexism as an electoral tool, crashed our economy, and made the world hate America.

And even more succinctly, Jerry Saltz wrote in the Vulture:

Bush regards himself, yet nothing untoward is showing or seen. He is chaste and untouched even when alone. We see his knobby knees and his toes peeking up above the running water.

Who knows, maybe at the next Armory Fair some brave gallery will feature an all George Bush booth and sell out. What could be more surreal?

Comments (14)

  • Have a look at these Charles Howard drawings that are a part of the Menil Collection:


    @ 17:50

  • Painting is not so easy to pick up. These paintings look rather human to me; hence, he looks human to me today. What do you know–go figure? What is the world coming to? And, what were you expecting? Maybe it’s time to get a life, people.

  • He got the back of his head right, I’d know the back of that head anywhere. He took the artistic license and gave himself a nice tan in both paintings. What’s up the the shower in the first one? No water pressure. Is he mad at the local water company? Or does it signify weak emotions? In painting 2 the water is also running. Hmmm, he likes running water so much he feels compelled to paint it? Nothing odd there, most people like running water, waterfalls, rivers, wave’s breaking. Painting 1, he is getting wet, painting 2 he is half underwater…what will happen in painting 3? Breathing through a reed commando style while fully submerged? What’s up with this: His top half in one painting, and his bottom half in the other-but no middle. Also, in painting 1, his shoulder blades look like mammary glands. Hmmm. What does this signify? Here is the top half of the back of me, showing mammary glands coming out of my shoulders, while some unknown persons face is in the mirror. What the hell? I am trying not to look too deep into this. The bathroom is one of the few places people can go and shut out the world and let go/unwind. Maybe he is just starting to relax after the 8 year episode of running the world. In re-examining both paintings one more time, I see this: the first one says ” I am just regular guy who takes shower like everyone eles” in the second one I see “my legs are so tired they appear bowlegged and so I need to relax more and maybe I will take up this painting thing. Maybe even grow a goatee and start wearing some kind of cool art guy hat to give myself a new ‘rakish’ look”.

  • I really like the bath tub scene. Nice work GWB!

  • i’m surprised bonnard never comes up with these. i mean, clearly w exhibits more sensitive paint handling but i find the subjects and tone almost derivative. obviously w’s wet room is more contemporary.

  • Instead of wasting time braking into Bush’s email for paintings to make fun of, this guy should have hacked into the white house email to find out something worth while like why Obama lied to us about Benghazi.

  • Hitler was a painter too.

  • He can not face himself in the mirror that hangs near purifying water, running water is covering his sins his genitals when he F..ed us and many innocent!

  • Not bad, not bad, but Cecilia Jimenez could make-a it better. http://habitandhappenstance.blogspot.com/2013/02/man-in-mirror.html

  • I think he should sell them for billions and pay back the American People for his 2 wars….

  • Looks like he fails at art as much as he failed at everything else.

  • As a professional artists model for over 20 years I have see much stranger things done to my image in the name of art. His technique is perfectly adequate and his subject matter seems obvious, so what’s WRONG with this?

  • Lon Hodowal says:

    The tub picture, vulnerable also lonely, maybe happy to be alone?

  • Lon Hodowal says:

    No fan, but wait. This pair of paintings capture space in the most ambiguous and curious and psychological, lonely way. In the view on back who is the viewer? Barbara? Laura? His superego-witness? I think it is interesting.

See all responses (14)
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