I love Asian art.
I'm usually turned off by anything associated with Tibetan Buddhism because I associate it with well-meaning but obnoxiously militant hippies (some who I love dearly) and fake celebrity concerns. Also, because Buddhism is really, really difficult to understand. So much so that although I wandered into "Lama, Patron, Artist: The Great Situ Panchen" exhibit at the Sackler Gallery yesterday, I wasn't expecting much.
What I came away from the exhibit was this: in old-timey Buddhsim, hats were pretty important and if you had a black hat, you were all set. Also, their gods were capable of some sexual feats that not even the Internet can trump.
So fantastical were these portrayals of what you could accomplish if you were a god, and able to kill your enemies, ride on a flying tiger, and remain in "union with your consort" all at the same time that I was a little embarrassed to be in a room with this stuff on the walls with other people (kids!). Really, the women were wrapped around the gods in such a way that you almost didn't notice them at first. It was absolutely dirty. And pretty hot, not just in an art kind of way. I couldn't find any examples from the exhibit (and was too shy to take pictures), so here's a tamer example:
Good on you, Situ Pachen.
I truly understand that a porn-attack was not the aim of either the gallery or the Buddhist masters. But I couldn't help but contrast it to what I know of religion. Because sexual gymnastics aside, these were religious paintings and sculptures. I wondered what it might be like to have been raised in a world where my gods were depicted crushing enemies with one hand, creating the oceans with another hand, and simultaneously f*cking a buxom red goddess (no hands).
I'm a little jealous. In a way, I think that "this, if taken seriously, is a path to enlightenment" is a healthier approach than "everything is a sin."
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