An affectionate couple, carved out of ivory, is the first thing you see upon entering Asia Society’s eclectic, idiosyncratic, and utterly absorbing exhibition “In the Realm of Gods and Kings: Arts of India: Selections from the Polsky Collections.”[1] The pair is entwined in an uneasy embrace. The drilled pupils of their stylized protuberant eyes and the sleek arches of their eyebrows make them look startled. The woman stands behind the man, haunch nested into haunch, so that their torsos are united by parallel rhythms. But the figures also spiral, now inclining towards one another, now away. The woman reaches behind the man’s head to touch his jeweled topknot; he swivels his upper body so that he can hold her chin—without taking his other hand off his sword. She strokes his arm. They turn to face one another, but their gazes fail to connect, so that the sculpture’s ...


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