On Dec 19, 2008, the official portraits of U.S. President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush were unveiled at a ceremony that took place at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., where the paintings become part of the museum’s permanent collection. Artist Robert Anderson had the dubious honor of creating the likeness of the president, and artist Aleksander Titovets the task of painting the first lady. No shoes were thrown during the ceremony before some 500 people, but Mr. Bush did attempt a joke; “I suspect there would be a good sized crowd once the word got out about my hanging.” Indeed. The paintings go on public view beginning Dec 20, 2008, and I present Mr. Bush’s portrait here in my preferred manner of hanging.
I am proud to say that in the past excruciatingly long eight years I never yielded to the temptation of creating an artwork lambasting President Bush. Why? Because I am more interested in offering a systemic critique rather than one focused on individuals. Conversely, I do not believe in the cult of the personality, and I will not join those artists who opportunistically create flattering portraits of soon-to-be president, Barack Obama. It is my belief that art must never be the handmaiden to centers of power, it must always remain free and autonomous – that spirit permeates my work and drives this web log.