Bush's art in book

Former US President George W. Bush promotes his new book and shares his love for painting while also clarifying recent remarks he made about President Donald Trump and the media.
Former US president George W. Bush will be releasing a book called Portraits Of Courage, a collection of paintings of military veterans he has met who served in the US Army in Iraq or Afghanistan. Profits from the book will be donated to a non-profit
Former US president George W. Bush will be releasing a book called Portraits Of Courage, a collection of paintings of military veterans he has met who served in the US Army in Iraq or Afghanistan. Profits from the book will be donated to a non-profit centre.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • Former United States president George W. Bush has kept a low profile since leaving the White House in 2009. But he is set to reveal some of the fruits of his second career tomorrow in a book called Portraits Of Courage.

A collection of paintings of military veterans subtitled A Commander In Chief's Tribute To America's Warriors, it features 66 portraits of wounded or traumatised personnel he has met who served in the US Army in Iraq or Afghanistan following the attacks on Sept 11, 2001.

While the 43rd president has never voiced regret over launching the US- led wars in Afghanistan (in 2001) and Iraq (in 2003), which caused hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, his book showcases his efforts to help some of the "remarkable men and women who were injured carrying out my orders", as he wrote on his Instagram account.

"I think about them on #VeteransDay and every day," he added in the post showing a photo of him painting one of his impressionistic portraits, which will be on exhibition at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas, from Thursday through Oct 1.

He will donate his profits from the book to the non-profit centre.

All but retired from public life, Mr Bush spends most of his time at his Texas ranch, where he first picked up a paintbrush in 2012.

In 2014, he unveiled 30 stylised portraits of heads of state he knew as president, including former British prime minister Tony Blair, Russian president Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The distorted and sometimes only vaguely recognisable faces attracted some withering criticism from art critics who panned his "naive" or "clumsy" style.

The new portraits of veterans, clearly more accomplished works, show greater mastery over the art.

However, the main interest in Mr Bush's paintings will be what the artist reveals of his feelings about the conflicts he launched and the veterans who bore the consequences of his decision to go to war.

About 2.5 million US military personnel have served in Afghanistan or Iraq since 2001.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

•Portraits Of Courage (US$22.48 or S$31.60) is available for pre-order at Amazon.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2017, with the headline 'Bush's art in book'. Print Edition | Subscribe