Not only creditable, but ambitious. In Portraits of Courage, the former president now pays tribute in remarkable fashion to the soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan during his presidency. It consists of oil paintings, some of them deeply moving, of 98 wounded veterans he met through his Warrior Open golf tournament and his hundred-kilometer bicycle races.
Bush, it must be said at the outset, is a painter of conspicuous limitations. His work lumbers with the gawkiness of the beginner, who must substitute diligence for innate talent. There is also that inescapable stiffness that comes from working from photographs. And yet while most beginners are uncertain, Bush’s weaknesses derive from a kind of impetuousness. His paintings quiver with kinetic energy, suggesting the furious visible brushwork of the Ash Can School but also something of the nervous agitation of German Expressionism.
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