Former President and noted painter George W. Bush has unveiled his portraits of 24 current and former world leaders, including Vladimir Putin, Tony Blair, the Dalai Lama and his father, George H.W. Bush.
In an interview broadcast on NBC’s “Today” show Friday, Bush told his daughter, “Today” contributor Jenna Bush Hager, about an uncomfortable encounter he had with the Russian president.
“As you know, our dear dog Barney, who had a special place in my heart — Putin dissed him and said, ‘You call it a dog?’” Bush recalled. “A year later, your mom and I go to visit and Vladimir says, ‘Would you like to meet my dog?’ Out bounds this huge hound, obviously much bigger than a Scottish terrier, and Putin looks at me and says, ‘Bigger, stronger and faster than Barney.’
“I just took it in. I didn’t react,” Bush continued. “I just said, ‘Wow. Anybody who thinks ‘my dog is bigger than your dog’ is an interesting character.’ And that painting kind of reflects that.”
The paintings are part of an exhibit — “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy” — that goes on display Saturday at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas.
Bush told his daughter that the subjects of his new series have not yet seen their portraits.
“I think they’re going to [say], ‘Wow. George Bush is a painter,'” the 67-year-old former president said. “I mean, I’m sure when they heard that I was painting — and if they had — they’re going to say, ‘Wow. I look forward to seeing a stick figure he painted of me.'”
Bush said he chose leaders he admired during his two-term presidency as his subjects.
SOURCE: Dylan Stableford