An Art Critic Reviews George W. Bush's Paintings... And Isn't Impressed

04/07/2014 01:06 pm ET | Updated Apr 09, 2014

George W. Bush's painting exhibition opened this weekend at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas. Dubya's premiere exhibition revolves around portraits of world leaders from Vladimir Putin to his own father, rendered in Bush's strangely intriguing figurative style.

Art critic Deborah Solomon stopped by HuffPost Live to give her thoughts on the 43rd president-turned-burgeoning artist. Spoiler alert: she wasn't particularly impressed.

"I would just like to point out they are basically very simple-minded as paintings," Solomon explains, stressing the fact that Bush likely projects photographs onto a panel and copies them, a process known to the masses as tracing.

Although Solomon clarifies this technique is a "completely legitimate method" for postmodern contemporary artists, she notes that Bush doesn't transform his imagery in any way beyond simply copying it. (It's also unlikely that Bush is partaking in a postmodern exploration of the proliferation of images.)

New York Times art critic Roberta Smith was a bit kinder to Bush in her recent review of his show. "Mr. Bush has an uncanny ability to translate photographs into more awkward images enlivened by distortions and slightly ham-handed brushwork," she explained. "His skill may be disconcerting for people who love painting and dislike the former president, but still, everyone needs to get a grip, especially those in the art world who dismiss the paintings without even seeing them."

Perhaps Solomon summed it up best when she concluded, "I think a lot of us wish he had become a painter as opposed to a president. We all could have been saved a lot of trouble."

Let us know your thoughts on Bush's surprising art career in the comments.

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