Cynthia Moku


phase i: The Pure Colours of Our Relations

6’x6’ black lacquer wood frame
35 painted 9”x9” panels, gouache on paper

This series developed into a three-phase platform for group performances. It begins with Phase I, The Colours of Our Relations. During one academic semester, while I was faculty and chairperson of the Visual Art Department at Naropa University, I painted 35 square panels, each showing the gesture of Turning the Wheel of Dharma, the teaching mudra.

Each panel was painted as a reflection of the ambiance created while engaging with students in the ‘being (presence) circles’. At the end of the semester, the work was presented as a group generated spontaneous arrangement. In its final form this art piece is a sliding-panel puzzle, with 35 squares which can be moved by hand in over a thousand variations. The 36th square remains always empty.

Over a span of 20 years, I returned to this puzzle board format twice. Phase II, Of Gestures and Games, developed and was exhibited and ‘played’ within several public performances. It highlighted the four seminal hand ‘turnings’ which I named; Touching, Tending, Training & Taming.

Years later, this series became complete with painting the colours and mudras of Phase III, Pax & Celeritas. With this painting, the Training hand gesture —the meditation mudra— became the central gesture at the top of the game board. Peace and swiftness.