George W. Bush's Paintings: Gallerist Gregg Shienbaum Analyzes Dubya's Masterpieces
When we think of former President George W. Bush, there are lots of memories that come to mind -- cowboy hats, oil rigs, and "misunderestimated," to name a few. We don't, however, usually think of Bush Jr. in the context of the fine arts.
But with last week's hacking of some Bush family email accounts, it's come to light that Dubya likes to make with the brush strokes. A self-portrait in the shower, his feet in the bathtub, and a landscape are a few of the works uncovered in emails. So to analyze the former prez's handiwork, we spoke to Gregg Shienbaum, owner of Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art, for his take on the objets d'art.
"The subject matter that he chose and the activities that he portrayed in these painting are everyday, average activities that everyday, average people partake in on a daily basis. But being the [former] President of the United States of America and 'Leader of the Free World' is anything but average," Shienbaum offers.
As average people, we'll never be able to understand the positions that presidents (or former presidents) deal with on the regular, he says.
"I would imagine that as president you lose the ability to partake in the average daily activities that you used to, and sometimes wish that you could just do them every once in a while. I also imagine that most citizens do not take the time to stop and realize that POTUS is, and wants to be, a regular average guy, but his job prohibits him/her from being average. So here we see the President doing things that we do everyday. Taking a bath or shaving is normal to people, but have you ever thought about the president doing it?" Shienbaum says.
If anything, we've actively avoided thinking about that. But we get Shienbaum's point.
"Maybe these little everyday moments are the most peaceful moments of the President's hectic day. Maybe that's the only time he gets to be relaxed and be contemplative. Maybe these moments were his moments of Zen, and hence, were very precious and personal moments to him. This is probably why he chose to paint these scenes."
When asked to compare Bush's artwork to any other artists throughout history, Shienbaum names English painter and photographer David Hockney.
"So many of Hockney's most beautiful images are of his friends just going about their everyday lives. Friends by a pool, people sitting at a table conversing, and of course, people in very intimate situations. Many times Hockney painted his subjects as nudes, and in vulnerable, private, personal settings," Shienbaum explains.
"Here we see the President of the United States of America without clothes in a very personal intimate act. These are situations that the average citizen would never see or think of a person in this position doing."
In other words, these paintings indicate Dubya might be longing to live like normal folk. Sounds like he's just a simple Texas boy, after all.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about arts and culture events in Miami and offers you won't hear about anywhere else.