Under Kathmandu's spell

Maura Moynihan’s exhibition of paintings show her deep affection for Nepal

"When you fall under the spell of the Kathmandu Valley, it is impossible not to paint,” says Maura Moynihan . “Every day I discover a new temple, a secret stupa, another jatra.”

In the 1970s Maura Moynihan attended the American School  in New Delhi, when her father, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, served as the United States Ambassador. She spent many years in Asia as a journalist, published two best-selling works of fiction, Yoga Hotel and Covergirl, and has exhibited her paintings in India, Nepal and the US. At 23, Moynihan appeared on the cover of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, and for five years Moynihan and Warhol worked together at Interview and co-hosted Andy Warhol’s tv.

Maura Moynihan with Andy Warhol, New York City 1982

Maura Moynihan first visited Kathmandu in 1973 when her father, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, was US Ambassador to India. It was love at first sight, and her love for Kathmandu’s unique artistic and cultural heritage continues. In 1999 Moynihan held her first exhibition at the Siddhartha Gallery, and spent many years in Nepal as a designer, painter and author. Back in New York Moynihan served from  2004-2010 as a consultant to the Rubin Museum of Art, which specialises on the Himalaya.

Picasso said “painting is just another way of keeping a diary”, so Moynihan uses watercolors since they dry quickly as she depicts Nepal’s colours, movements, sky festivals.

“I have great admiration for the people of Nepal. How it is sustained by the artisans, shamans, and pujaris who perform the rituals that are the foundation of daily life, and have sustained a great civilisation for over 2,500 years,” she says. “Lord Buddha was a Sakya prince when most of humanity was mired in barbarism. And so I say, Jai Nepal.”

Moynihan carried paint, brushes, pencil and paper in her travels across Asia over the past three decades to Bhutan, Sikkim, Ladakh, Tibet, China, Japan, across Central Asia and Southeast Asia. “But I always return to Nepal, where seeds of Hindu myths and Buddhist philosophy mingle in Kathmandu’s rich and varied culture, it is a feast, a challenge and a quest for an artist,” she says.

Indeed, while Moynihan has a deep appreciation for India’s culture and history, it is Nepal, and especially Kathmandu, that mesmerised her enough to inspire her art. In the past years, however, she has also admired Thailand, its culture and art heritage. She has admired the Thais and their devotion to its monarchy and had an exhibition in Bangkok titled ‘King of Kings’ after King Bhumibol’s death.

Moynihan has exhibited across Asia, and her works have received wide acclaim.


​Paintings by Maura Moynihan

Kathmandu Art

21 April - May 2018


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