Thu. Feb 27th, 2020

George W. Bush opens as a painter in Washington | Culture

The president who started two wars that have claimed more than 5,000 fatalities in the ranks of the United States Army began painting with a fine brush after leaving the presidency. It seems that George W. Bush He started in the love of canvases after reading the essay written by Winston Churchill Paint like a hobby, published there by 1948, after the polls expelled the British prime minister from power despite having led his country during World War II.

From last Monday, October 7 and until November 15, so that the dates include the 11th of next month, when the Veterans Day, The Reach, is celebrated in the United States, the new wing of 175 million dollars added to the Kennedy Center for the Arts, it hosts the exhibition in one of its best rooms Value Portraits. The subtitle of the exhibition is not read every day in an art contest: Tribute of a Commander in Chief to the American Warriors. Portraits painted by President George W. Bush. Not every day does Kennedy welcome the work of a former president, which is not without controversy.

Some say that Bush began painting portraits of soldiers wounded in battles as a form of atonement after sending US troops to Iraq and Afghanistan as commander in chief after the September 11 attacks. But there are also those who point out that in order to have purgation he has had before he has repented, to have accepted a guilt. That has not happened.

Visitors at the Bush exhibition.

Visitors at the Bush exhibition. AFP

For Army Corporal Joshua Michael, who lost his arm and left leg in Afghanistan in 2010 and today he can see his face in a portrait hanging on the walls of the Kennedy Center, it's not about whether Bush is guilty or not. In his opinion, Bush did what he had to do. Not in vain did he play the role of being the maximum leader of the troops after 9/11.

The fondness for the painting of President 43 of the nation was in the public domain in 2013 after his works -which included self-portraits- were hung on the net by a hacker. Since then, the former Republican president has been evolving and leaving behind the portraits of prominent political figures to focus his art on the recipients of an Institute that bears his name and sponsors programs for war veterans.

His painting professors – who has had them – instructed Bush in the technique known as impassive, the application of thick brush strokes of paint on the canvas, so that the volume and shape of the brush strokes are visible and generate a three-dimensional effect and an added texture. The face of Ramón Padilla; that of Timothy John Long; Kent Graham Solheim; that of Lesli Zimmerman … Thus up to 97 countenance, 95 men and two women, to whom the former president wanted to pay tribute.

In some of the paintings, the wounds after the battle are obvious, visible: a prosthesis supplies the already non-existent arm; the same happens with a hand, a leg … Other wounds are not evident to the human eye, they are the unclosed scars that the battle has left in the soldiers in the form of post-traumatic stress, it is the difficulty to rejoin civil life After having lived the fight in the first person.

The images of these Army veterans are also a book that was a best seller in 2017 and that it is now sold out in the Washington showroom on its third day of opening to the public. The show has been in many museums around the United States. That he arrived at the Kennedy of the nation's capital has caused the reproach of the prestigious art critic of the newspaper The Washington Post Philip Kennicott, who believes that Bush is not a bad artist but does not deserve to be at the Kennedy Center, let alone in the launch of his billionaire new wing.

Many of those commemorated in the portraits attended the debut of the exhibition. And as in all openings of Valor Portraits, the former president did not attend the premiere. Bush doesn't want to be the star. That is why he does not sign these works either. Let the men and women who sent the war speak for him.

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