At the Rubin Museum, a Nepalese Sculpture That Is Half Cloud, Half Elephant, All Art

THE DAILY PIC: A copper plaque from Nepal unites earth and the heavens.

THE DAILY PIC (#1612): Giant, bulging, thunderous, gray – what could be a more suitable stand-in for a storm cloud than an elephant?

Heavy, earth-bound, solid, dry – what could be a less suitable stand-in for a storm cloud than an elephant?

The most powerful art is often about paradox – entertaining two opposite notions at once – and this paradoxical depiction “of” a cloud, and of an elephant, comes from 18th-century Nepal. I can’t say I knew the slightest thing about that country’s art before seeing “Nepalese Seasons: Rain and Ritual,” at the Rubin Museum in New York. Now I’m in love with the stuff.

The Rubin show explains that life in Nepal has always depended on the rains brought by the yearly monsoon. It can carry the nation aloft on its back, or trample it underfoot. (Collection of Shelley and Donald Rubin, image courtesy the Rubin Museum of Art)

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