George W. Bush’s Joy of Painting

by Rachel Baker on April 5, 2014

Below is a really interesting take on the Today show interview with former President George W. Bush about his painting. Even without seeing the paintings, its difficult not to wonder if this former President may be suffering from some of his own PTSD, and painting is the way he has chosen to try to cope with what happened during his time in office.

During Friday’s segment on the “Today” show, in which the NBC special correspondent Jenna Bush Hager joined her father, former President George W. Bush, for a tour of an exhibition of his never-before-seen paintings, the two came upon a self-portrait—not the infamous one of Bush in the bathtub, but a more conventional depiction, from the shoulders up.

“You think you got to the soul of you?” Hager asked her father.

“Well, you’re gonna have to ask other people who know me better, like yourself,” the former President said.

In the interview, Bush told his daughter that painting had opened his mind, but perhaps it is too much to think that it would have turned the outward-looking, goal-driven man inward. Some Bush paintings that leaked last year, including ones in the shower and the bathtub, were startling not merely for their unexpected setting (and ex-Presidential skin) but because they, with their primitive experimentation with point of view, suggested a kind of soul-searching. They were quiet and a little sad. The magazine’s art critic, Peter Schjeldahl, wrote, “Someone could run with it into themes of appearance and reality, mysteries of identity, and whatnot. Not me, though.” It turns out he was wise to resist the urge. As Bush tells it, he conceived of those scenes because “I wanted to kind of shock my instructor.”

Read the whole article here:
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2014/04/george-w-bush-painting-the-world.html

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