Bush exposure paints an ugly portrait of future
Opinion:Hackers could shut down the way we live and determine how we die
I spent a long time looking at W’s sprezzatura in the shower, the play of light and shadow on his muscular back, and his face winsomely reflected in the shaving mirror.
I gazed at the former president’s legs and toes in the bathtub, overcome with relief that W was now under the influence of Lucian Freud rather than Dick Cheney.
Images of W’s tasteful nude self-portraits went viral after being published on the Smoking Gun website on Thursday; they were stolen from his sister Doro’s email account by a hacker called Guccifer, who is now being investigated by the Secret Service for pillaging three years of Bush family email. Congress and the news media are engaged in a febrile debate about the way America has used torture and drones, trying to figure out if the war on terror launched by W got out of control and warped our sense of right and wrong. In the midst of this cacophony on morality, W himself seems to have escaped to a simpler, more solipsistic landscape, making illustrations of his illustrious torso.
We are not talking Bonnard-level nude bath paintings. But, like W’s charming oil portrait of Barney, signed “43”, which he released himself when his dog died recently, the pictures were surprisingly interesting and humanising.
The way the artist uses light on surfaces, the sun coming through a fabric shade and hitting the water in the bathtub, is quite deft, as are his brush strokes and his use of a Rokeby Venus-style face in the mirror.
The president who came across as a paint-by-numbers executive in public life can actually paint in private life.
It’s weird because W’s presidency was not a reality-based undertaking; it did not look carefully at the world. And yet his paintings reflect meticulous optical observation.
As president (where he also showed sprezzatura), W was led by Cheney and Rummy. But as a painter, he savours his own perspective.
The Smoking Gun reported that Guccifer infiltrated the email of Doro Bush and several family friends, collecting cellphone numbers, security codes, photos – including ones of the paintings and another of the first President Bush in the hospital – and emails, including one by Jeb Bush about how his father helped restore Bill Clinton’s “sordid reputation”.
It was a week for worrying about the dark side of our cool, fast, exciting, heedless new technologies.