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So, you know nothing about Buddhism or Hinduism, and can’t tell the names of temples or Cambodian cities apart from Magyar and Finnish. No worries! Your sparse knowledge of Christian symbolism and hand gestures doesn’t prevent you from enjoying Renaissance painting, so why should your ignorance of Eastern religions prohibit you from appreciating multiple statues of Vishnu and Shiva? As evidenced in the “Gods of Angkor” exhibition, there’s more to the cultural traditions of Cambodia than the Khmer Rouge in the late ’70s, and they are found—in part—within the design, ornamentation, and intricacies of the 36 master bronzes on view. To impress your friends, talk about the statuary breaking the frontal plain, the conventions of contrapposto, or the influence of Hellenism—Eastern and Western art share more in common than you might think.
THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW 10 A.M. TO 5:30 P.M. DAILY TO JAN. 23, 2011, AT THE ARTHUR M. SACKLER GALLERY, 1050 INDEPENDENCE AVE. SW. FREE. (202) 633-4880.