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February 8, 2013

Your Turn: Bush Paints!

Bush painting shower

Bush Painting bathtub

(Click for full size)

Bush lovers. Bush haters. Painters. Art and design professors. Amateur psychologists. Bag commenters and reader/lurkers. Dubya’s email loss is our gain. We’re interested in your takes on technique and content. Surely, we can do wring more of of these than this.

(images: The Smoking Gun)

  • Enoch Root

    I am absolutely delighted that they are weird.

    If Bush asked me what I thought about them I’d say: Go for it. Enjoy yourself. Art is good. My suggestion though would be to sketch in charcoal or pencil to get a better sense of 3-d forms.

    There’s plenty of cynical stuff to say but the man should go ahead and spend all his time getting really good at painting if he wants to.

    Now I have to go watch my DVD of ‘That’s My Bush!’

  • Thomas

    I hope he sticks with it. He’s got some talent for this and I’ll be curious to see where he goes with it. One of the things that always most astonished me about him as a public figure was his uncanny ability to truly bring out the absolute worst in everybody. It’s what made him such a disastrous leader. He was so relentlessly divisive that his supporters were just as eternally amped up as his critics. And everybody had to be one or the other. He (well, Cheney really) just made monsters of us all and then went on to kill tens of thousands of people. It’s just unforgivable. So while it’s weird to see him (albeit through the transgressive lens of the privacy-invading gong show of consumer media) doing something that doesn’t appear to be calculated as an explosive device, the more surprising thing is all of the generally positive comments. It looks like those editorializing with a byline seemed to be in a race to see who could laugh first and laugh loudest at these paintings, assuming everybody would share in the joke. But perhaps most people only cared enough to hate Bush specifically for betraying us as a president. If he wants to use his time to work on getting better at art, well, that looks like an intrinsically positive act.

  • black_dog_barking

    Such a lovely lovely irony, that Mr former Decider gets his email hacked and read. Didn’t seem to think it much of a problem to assert the privilege of reading everyone else’s email when he was in a position to choose.

    This intrusion into his privacy reveals nothing we didn’t already know, another irony. For all the secrecy that shrouded the Bush (cough Cheney) Administration he was and is terribly transparent. A painter has the tools to portray anything in the universe, real or imagined, that bubbles to the attention of the painter’s inner observer. George chooses to paint himself. Duh.

    As to the paintings, I can’t shake my overwhelming immediate response — Lady Macbeth:

    Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!—One; two: why, then
    ’tis time to do’t.—Hell is murky.—Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, and
    afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our
    pow’r to accompt?—Yet who would have thought the old man to
    have had so much blood in him?

    This surprises me, that the tiny tiny person that was our president actually feels guilt.

  • Karen H

    His stance in the shower is sort of interesting…besides the obvious, the angle on the mirror, which doesn’t match the angle on his face is a handy metaphor for his presidency. Especially Iraq. What you see isn’t really the direction we are going in.

  • bks3bks

    Like Lady MacBeth, Bush tries to figuratively wash the blood and offal of one million massacred Iraqi civilians from his body. To no avail.


  • Michael Shaw

    After stating vigorously and defiantly many times while in office that he doesn’t do it, evidence here is he’s trying to self-reflect.

    • black_dog_barking

      When he said he didn’t you could be pretty sure that’s *all* he does. Stand in front of mirrors, inner and real.

  • gastropoda

    As tempting as it is to study these and assess how guilty/reflective he feels, I’m half-starting to think he hacked himself to release these “paintings.” Kidding, of course, but the gulf between the paint-by-numbers thing on the easel in the weight room (?) and the oddly moving bathroom scenes is just too wide. Thomas Kinkade suddenly becomes Francis Bacon? And he has never shown any indication of being introspective before.

    Hacking gives no context. So let’s talk crazy talk: Maybe these were actually painted and sent to him by someone else? Someone who knows him intimately and wishes he were a better man? (Guess that rules out Dick Cheney.) I doubt it was Laura. Even though she has a Lady Macbeth complex, constantly cleaning her closets maybe to forget mowing down a friend, her husband did call her “the lump in the bed.”

    And the set-up in the weight room is so obvious compared with the bathroom shots. He’s posing. Photographer is as well, in the mirror.

    Just one last cynical thought: He is the only retiree in America who can live out the dream, using his free time without a care in the world to learn a new hobby. Everyone I know is terrified. The photo of him doing the apparent paint-by-number in luxury should rile every struggling American. Even before they stop to think: Hmmm. Carter and Clinton and even GWHB went on to do things after leaving the White House. This guy just wants to paint himself in the tub?

  • Thomas Gokey

    I absolutely love these. I want to see more. Surely he’s done more than these.

    First impressions: he’s a better painter than he was a president.

    Second: “out damn spot!”

    Third: waterboarding! The nudity and the tile are not completely unlike Abu Ghraib are they not?

    Forth: what is great about these paintings is that we get to see how a world leader styles himself, literally. These paintings aren’t propaganda because they were never meant to be seen by the public (at least not yet, surely Bush fantasizes about his paintings being regarded as brilliant someday when historians view them in the Bush library). The paintings are nude because Bush really is a bit exposed. We see how he styles himself for himself rather than for the public.

    But upon further reflection about the two bathroom scenes more than anything I think about Bush’s self-styled image as “the decider.” I think that’s what’s really at stake in these shower/tube paintings. The decider is–by definition–alone.

    I think most people are going to read these two bathroom scenes wrong. What is hard to do is consider how Bush himself sees them. Everyone is reading them as a sign that Bush feels guilty, that he needs to wash all the blood off. Well of course that is how we and any other sane and decent person whole read a painting like this. But how would a monster see this painting? What does it mean to the monster? These bathroom paintings are worrying and uncanny precisely because they depict Bush when he feels calm, relaxed, and content. The decider doesn’t second guess himself. The paintings are calm and calming. The mirror doesn’t express some kind of soul searching so much as it does self contentment. The decider is at peace with himself. The face in the mirror approves, that’s all that matters. He doesn’t give a single thought to the fact that literally billions of people regard him as the 21st century’s first monstrously evil world leader, the connective tissue to the mosters of the 20th century. Bush is just taking a bath, stupidly and happily. These are the paintings of someone who can live with himself.

    The weight room is just too much. A novelist couldn’t have done it better.

  • Glennis Waterman

    It’s fun to ponder the ironies of Mr. Bush having his email account hacked, as some have done here, but in fact it wasn’t his account, it was his sister Doro’s account.

  • Violet Twilight

    I wonder if the pick of bathroom scenes are only for the alignment on the painting. As a beginner, getting perspective view on canvas will need some vertical-horizontal ruler-type lines, and it seems both bathtub-corners and water flow, tiles on shower provide that while being a part of painting.

    Perhaps that’s all he thought – ease of painting – from his everyday life that includes water features.

  • Richard Henzel

    You know who else was a painter???

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