George W. Bush's brushwork to take spotlight at April exhibit

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[February 25, 2014]  WASHINGTON (Reuters) George W. Bush, U.S. president turned painter, will have his artwork featured in an exhibit for the first time in April.

More than two dozen portraits painted by the 43rd U.S. president will be part of exhibit called "The Art of Leadership: A President's Personal Diplomacy," the George W. Bush Presidential Center said on Monday.

The center did not mention the subjects of the portraits.

Artifacts, photographs and personal reflections will also be part of the exhibit, which the center said will "provide an insider's view into President Bush's unique relationships with other world leaders." His works will be displayed at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas in early April.

After leaving the presidency in 2009, Bush picked up a brush and has painted still lifes, landscapes and images of animals, including a perched cardinal that the center featured on Christmas ornaments, and a tribute to Barney, his black Scottish terrier who died in 2013.

The portfolio includes self-portraits. In 2013, a hacker obtained Bush family emails that included a painting of the former president in the shower, looking at himself in a shaving mirror, and another of a pair of legs extended in a bathtub.

Bush, who lives in Dallas, took painting lessons after leaving the White House and told the Dallas Morning News his interest developed after reading former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's 1948 book, "Painting as a Pastime."

"It's a way to create," Bush, who signs his paintings "43," told the newspaper. "I enjoy creating ... You can express yourself in a way that's unique."

(Reporting and writing by Bill Trott; editing by Susan Heavey and Bernadette Baum)

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