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25 October 2014 20:00 (South Africa)
Life, etc

Art world shudders as Dubya comes clean

  • Richard Poplak
  • Life, etc
bush main.jpg

The question asked by thinking people everywhere: what is former US President George W Bush up to? Mostly, the answer is getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars at speaking engagements for roomfuls of fat bankers and Goldman Sachs traders. Another correct answer would be “shooting things”. A third? Try painting. RICHARD POPLAK takes a dive into the deep end of the art world.

Nothing wrong with an artistic streak. It shows sensitivity, nuance, and a way of seeing the world that includes a great understanding of the sanctity of all things living under God’s great heaven. Things could be changing in the art world, though. Some artists currently garnering a lot of attention have been accused of great atrocities. And no, I’m not talking about Damien Hirst.

I’m talking about George W Bush.

When I first heard of W taking to an easel, I assumed that he was digging through deer viscera and smearing the blood onto a canvas, while Satan looked on encouragingly, saying, “Yes, my son. Yes, indeed. Loverly.”

But no. It appears that a hacker named Guccifer rudely hacked into W’s sister’s email. Irony alert: the president who didn’t care much for his subjects’ privacy or civil liberties was exposed as an artsy-fartsy type, emailing his family his pictures, like a kid proudly showing off his finger painting oeuvre during summer camp. No other Bush family secrets—like the fact that they were deposited here by an alien race in order to destroy earth and use humans for batteries—were exposed. Just Bush’s paintings.

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Which makes one think—is Guccifer merely the Colin Powell of W’s attempt to take over the art world? Is this (another) elaborate hoax to insinuate a Bush into the highest levels of a famously rotten and corrupt system? Or is it an attempt to bring democracy to the art world? Is W going after the Saddam Hussein of art traders, Larry Gagosian? Is this a pre-emptive strike, a shock and awe with oil and paint?

No one can say. But what is certain is that the W paintings are quite shit. That’s not to say that they don’t have their own special charm. To say nothing of nudity.

Yes, Bush’s output is like a Game of Thrones episode, without the beheadings. As one would expect of W, the paintings are mostly about him. And mostly about him washing. The first depicts a pair of old man legs in a bathtub, knees and toes protruding. This made me think about how difficult it must be to paint in the bathtub. Did the Pentagon invent waterproof paint so he could pull this off? Is he trying to put a postmodern spin on watercolours? Did he just lie, and paint the damn thing when he got out of the bath and dried off?

Again, who can say? Great art contains its own mysteries, and this painting is full of them. I will say this –the perspective is mildly accurate.

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The second painting shows a dude who is obviously Bush standing naked in the shower. We only see his upper torso, which is ripped and muscular, like he’s been bitch slapping Sylvester Stallone since he (Bush, not Stallone) split the White House. We see his dopey eyes staring back at us from a shaving mirror, and those eyes seem to by saying… well, what exactly?

Others have noted that the bathing theme may represent a deep subconscious need for Bush to cleanse himself of his many sins, which include, among other things, mangling the English language badly, and killing hundreds of thousands of people. It’s the killing hundreds of thousands of people part that gets people musing that Bush may have sin on his mind, but I’m not sure he remembers any of the boring stuff that happened between 2000 and 2008.

Speaking of boring – the third painting. This is a boilerplate landscape that looks like it was painted by a housewife between making macaroni and cheese and cleaning the toilet. It’s a painting of a church, which probably reflects the fact that W thinks he’s God.

Anyway, these aren’t the best paintings I’ve ever seen. But they aren’t Hitler bad (don’t forget, the Aushole from Austria was a painter before he graduated to genocidal maniac). Nor, as I said, are they Damien Hirsts.

But one does wonder what is next from Bush’s sturdy easel? Can we expect a nudey pic of Laura? Perhaps Dick Cheney spread out on a divan, posing like an emperor? Will Rummy come over and pose in Iron Man’s armour? The possibilities abound. It will certainly be interesting to see where Bush goes in his second career. It can’t possibly be a bigger failure than the first. DM

Photo by Reuters.

  • Richard Poplak
  • Life, etc


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