Former President George W. Bush unveiled some of his paintings of world leaders -- including a portrait of himself -- in an interview Friday on NBC’s “Today” show conducted by his daughter, Jenna Bush Hager.
The paintings will be part of the former president’s first solo art exhibition, "The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy,” opening this month at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas.
The exhibition, which opens Saturday and runs through June 3, will feature two dozen never-before-exhibited portraits created by Bush, as well as personal artifacts, photographs and other items that will tell the story of his relationship with international leaders.
During Friday’s interview, Bush showed portraits he had created of Tony Blair, Vladimir Putin, the Dalai Lama and others. The exhibition is also expected to include a painting of his father, former President George H. W. Bush, as well as a self-portrait by the 43rd president.
“I hope they take it in the spirit in which these were painted in,” Bush told his daughter, referring to the world leaders depicted in the portraits. “That was the spirit of friendship and that I admire them as leaders and was willing to give it a shot in terms of getting people to see how I felt about them.”
The brief interview with the former president included a visit from his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, who told her granddaughter that she will “absolutely not” pose for her son.
Since leaving the White House, Bush has kept a low public profile. His amateur art career was virtually unknown until images of his paintings were leaked online last year thanks to the work of a hacker.
Bush signs his paintings “43" -- a reference to his term as the 43rd U.S. president from 2001 to 2009. The former president went on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” in November to share some of his painting with host Jay Leno.