George W. Bush the painter about to show his art in gallery for first time

George W. Bush lines up first gallery exhibition after embracing new hobby post-White House

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 February, 2014, 11:27pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 February, 2014, 11:27pm


George W. Bush, the painter, will soon have his first gallery showing.

The former US president's artwork - a source of fascination for fans and critics in the worlds of politics and art - will be the centrepiece of a special exhibit at his presidential library.

Starting in early April, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum will open "The Art of Leadership: A President's Personal Diplomacy". The exhibit will focus on foreign policy and Bush's relationships with world leaders.

Two dozen never-before-exhibited portraits painted by Bush will be the highlight. The paintings will be "accompanied by artefacts, photographs and personal reflections to help illustrate the stories of relationships formed on the world stage", the library said. "It will educate and inform visitors about the important role leadership plays in global democracy, and will provide an insider's view into President Bush's unique relationships with other world leaders."

Bush's unexpected passion for painting has become one of the most discussed aspects of his post-White House life.

The 43rd president, who signs his work "43", took up painting after reading Painting as a Pastime by Winston Churchill, another politician turned painter. Bush now paints regularly and takes lessons from Gail Norfleet, an artist in Dallas, Texas.

Bush has said he likes how painting allows him to create and to express himself "in a way that's unique". He said that with his new hobby, he takes "great delight in busting stereotypes".

"People are surprised," he said. "Of course, some people are surprised I can even read."

Only a handful of Bush's work has been shown to the public. That includes a painting of Barney, his Scottish terrier that died last year, and a rendering of a cardinal, replicas of which were sold at the library's gift store last year as a Christmas ornament.

The Bush Library will also host another holiday-themed special exhibit this winter. "All Creatures Great and Small: Christmas at the White House 2002", will focus on the Bushes' second White House Christmas. The highlights will include indigenous bird ornaments designed by artists from across the US.