It’s like being nice about the family idiot’s latest art project. Aw, isn’t that sweet, poor George has done paintings of world leaders. He’s putting them in his little museum. The soppiness is unmitigated: early online reactions blathered moist-eyed about him capturing Vladimir Putin’s “soul”.
His portrait of Putin actually looks like something you would find in one of America’s trash-rich Salvation Army stores and buy to laugh at. It’s got a classic amateur clumsiness and oddity to it. Bush has attempted to render shadow and shape in stylish blocks of fawn and woodchip and cookies ‘n cream, but they don’t sit right and the whole head looks mildly crazed. Perhaps this mad look is what is meant by revealing Putin’s “soul”, but it seems inept rather than insightful.
It looks as if Bush’s art coach has showed him paintings by no less a model that the great pop portraitist Alex Katz, whose semi-abstract, wide-eyed style and flat backgrounds his hamfisted daubs vainly echo. But the results lack coherence or vitality. This is the art of Forrest Gump.