Everyone’s a critic — especially if you’re a polarizing former president who now exhibits oil paintings. Reaction is pouring in on former President George W. Bush’s portraits of world leaders, unveiled this week in a gallery show at Mr. Bush’s presidential library in Dallas. And thus far, the reviews are mixed.
“They are not bad so much as cautious, vacant, even servile — paintings by an artist anxious, or perhaps incapable, of doing anything that might leave a mark,” scoffed the Guardian’s Jason Farago, who seemed offended that Mr. Bush hadn’t offered some unique insight into the leaders he painted.
“It is futile to gaze at these paintings and discover anything of importance about Bush’s foreign policy, or even much about Bush’s post-retirement life,” Farago wrote. “Or if they do, they say only this: both the painting and the policy reflect a man untroubled by outside judgment, certain beyond any doubt of his rectitude and self-worth.”
The Telegraph’s Alistair Cooke observed that “Bush paints in a similar fashion to the way he talks – affecting a folksy, homespun, plain-speaking tone, with just enough ham-fisted strangeness and bungling missteps to keep things interesting.”
Several critics were particularly drawn to Mr. Bush’s painting of Russian President Vladimir Putin, speculating on what it might say about the relationship between the two men.
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