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George W Bush exhibits his paintings of world leaders
Written by aimee     April 06, 2014    
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On Saturday, former US President George W Bush, who has said he is admittedly "not a great painter", opens a public exhibit of his works - more than 24 portraits of world leaders he met while president. The BBC's Nick Bryant has a preview of the gallery.

For a president long criticised for seeing things only in black and white, the exhibition of George W Bush's art at his presidential library in Dallas comes as something of a revelation.

Delicate brushwork has replaced his famed swagger. He presents himself as a wholly different kind of Texas oilman. With each new brushstroke he seems also to be softening his public image.

George W Bush told his art teacher, whom he meets on a weekly basis, to unleash the ex-president's inner Rembrandt, and the results are now on public display: a deeply personal gallery of world leaders, focusing on the art of personal diplomacy.

His vantage point, of course, is unique: the cockpit of the presidency - or, at least, his recollection of those tumultuous White House years

His portrait of Tony Blair, which is bereft of the former British prime minister's trademark toothy smile, was intended to portray compassion, strength and reliability.

His Angela Merkel shows a more cheery side to the German chancellor than her sometimes grumpy public persona projects. And maybe his Dalai Lama reveals more about the former president himself, as he enters a more contemplative and cloistered phase of his life. In art, he appears to locate an inner serenity. But perhaps the most eagerly anticipated portrait is that of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

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Nick Bryant
Contributor's Comment
I certainly see this as humanising him. You know - show yourself as earnestly involved in a skill and hopefully do it well enough so that we don't laugh you off. I think this gives him a chance to be seen in a different light."
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