Restoring history through art
Phnom Penh, 16 July 2010
While almost all of the restoration at the Angkor temples revolves around the ancient Khmer edifices, at Bakong there is also a restoration team working on 20th century buildings in the complex â€“ the â€œworkingâ€ monasteries as such.
Some of these monasteries in Cambodia are festooned with dozens of brightly rendered religious wall paintings highlighting often lurid scenes from the life of Buddha and the Jatakas (tales of the previous lives of the Buddha). Often, however, these paintings are overlooked or dismissed as kitsch, unworthy of being classified as serious art. Some of the more gruesome paintings, sort of Bosch-gone-Buddhist renderings, are often rejected as grotesqueries.
But thatâ€™s not the viewpoint of Restaurateurs Sans Frontiere, a cultural NGO established in 1981 that began work at the Bakong site in 2007 at the instigation of Dr Vittorio Roveda, co-author of the book Buddhist Painting in Cambodia.