Maura Moynihan, daughter of former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has been in love with India since 1973 when she first moved from New York to New Delhi with her father who served there as the United States Ambassador.
By her own admission, she fell “passionately in love with India” the very moment she landed in New Delhi in 1973, and studied Indian art, music, dance and philosophy during her stay in the country where she studied in high school in New Delhi.
Over the years she has maintained her enduring interest in India as also her love for the brush and easel with which she has created many paintings inspired by Indian mythology and gods and goddesses.
Last week, Moynihan opened some of that artistic treasure-trove before public eyes in Kapoor Galleries in Manhattan. “I’ve done shows in India, Nepal, Washington, and I wanted to exhibit in New York. This is my first New York show after many years, and I am thrilled to be represented by Kapoor Galleries. Feels like home!,” Moynihan said in response to a question.
On view at the galley are 30 paintings which include her current as well as earlier work from the 1970s. The exhibition that opened June 23 will run through July3 at the gallery.
At the opening reception for the exhibition she gave a brief talk where she spoke about how India influenced her art and life, with the Kapoor’s unique collection of classical statuary as the source of inspiration for her watercolors.
“I draw my inspiration from India. The themes, the mythology, Indian art imparts wonder – Adbhuta, ignites transmission, educates, dazzles, enchants. Thailand is a Vedic civilization where the seeds of India mingled with the fertile lands of Southeast Asia; everywhere I follow seeds of India that fertilized Buddhism and Hindu Mythology into Asia’s rich and varied soils,’ according to her.
She told this correspondent that one of the great gifts India has given to the world is Buddhism. The Bengali master Atisha, she noted, brought the worship of Tara to Tibet in the 10th century A.D. As Buddhism died in India, it flourished in Tibet and the Tibetan refugees brought Buddhism back to life in India. “I have made pilgrimages to Bodh Gaya and Sarnath with the Dalai Lama.
Today these sacred seats are filled with international pilgrims like myself,’ To a question she said that the theme of this show is Goddess Tara, the Protector with the 21 Taras she painted in 2016.
“It was the Kapoor’s idea to mix my contemporary work with their collection of classical Indian art pieces. There is also work from the early 1970’s I have never shown before, and I attach an oil painting of Lodi Gardens I did in 1997. I used to go there in high school to read Urdu poetry,” she said.
Moynihan, who speaks Hindi, Urdu, Tibetan and French, is a best-selling author of two works of fiction, “Yoga Hotel” and “Covergirl”. She was a consultant to the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City.
“In 2013 I made a vow to paint the 21 Taras. I studied the iconography and legends of the 21 Taras and painted each Tara according to the Indian texts from the Gupta period, then added my own style, as I use watercolors,” she said.
Moynihan’s paintings are displayed alongside the Kapoor’s unique collection of Indian and Tibetan statuary to show the continuation of tradition.
Among the guests present at the event included Gautam Patwa and Swati Patel-Joseph who bought a White Tara, Dicky Peltso, her Tibetan sister, and Japanese film director Masako Tsumura.