Artwork at Nalanda Monastery


Resident artist Sonam Sherpa


Nalanda is really lucky to have Sonam Sherpa as resident artist since 2008. Despite his young age (born in 1983), Sonam is recognized as a highly talented artist.

Born in a small village in east Nepal "Hile Bagpaile," Sonam had predisposition to draw and paint since he was a child. This is why he was encouraged by his elder brother to go to the school of art in Boudhanath Kathmandu, the Tsering Art school founded by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche one of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachers. Sonam studied there for six years the thangka painting art following the lineage of Konchog Lhadrepa, the exceptionally qualified painting master of the Karma Gadri tradition famous for the beauty of its spacious landscapes combined with a minute attention to deities' details respecting the accuracy of the texts.

After having graduated in 2004, Sonam started working for monasteries in Nepal and India and then started to run a thangka workshop with a friend. In 2007, they met venerable Tendar, Nalanda's director on that time, who invited them to come to Nalanda to work in the new Gompa, to paint the main Buddha statue and the thousand Buddha statues arranged on the back wall. But after two months of work they decided to leave to Holland.

Five months later, in 2008, Sonam came back and decided to stay to finish the new Gompa: working on all the details of the main Buddha statue, opening the eyes of the Buddha statues in the back wall (doing more than 600 in about 5 months), painting and decorating the altar area and doing other works outside the Gompa. This amazing work took 2 years to be fully accomplished and ended just before the visit of Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 2009.

The visit of Lama Zopa Rinpoche was a turning point in the life of Sonam as Rinpoche was really impressed by the quality of his work and ordered him various works as Thangkas and logos for FPMT centers including Maitreya Buddha projects Logo. "Rinpoche’s appreciation is an important reason why I am still here. At some point, I thought my work was finished. But then Rinpoche asked me to do more thangkas for Nalanda."

sonam work

Those thangkas represent the three protectors of the Lam Rim. Vaishravana, a deity sitting on a snow lion, which is now on the left wall in the Gompa, White Mahakala which has also been finished and Kalarupa that Sonam hopes to finish soon. Nowadays, Sonam is mainly dedicated to paint the original statues of the 16 Arhats sculpted by Jonathan Partridge and he will also paint copies for other FPMT centers.

Sonam has always been very happy to fulfil Lama Zopa Rinpoche's wishes and benefit the monastery. Now Sonam is completely installed in France and since beginning of 2016 he is the proud father of a little girl.

Bertrand CaylaBertrand Cayla was born in Sallanches (Haute Savoie, France) in 1954. In 1972 he was accepted into the ‘Academie des Beaux-Arts de Paris’ where he studied drawing for two months. He continued to train as an autodidact artist in sculpture and painting. During the 1980’s he created a series of small sculptures for a ceramist and later he worked as a designer in the textile industry in Paris.

Inspired by Buddhist philosophy he took ordination in 1992. For the next 12 years he lived as a Tibetan Buddhist monk at Nalanda Monastery near Lavaur, France. There he founded the monastery’s workshop. He created a one meter high Kadampa stupa and established the tsa-tsa mould collection at the workshop which still produces statues and moulds for centres and practitioners all over the world.

Between 2001 and 2006, at the request of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, he created a large three meter high statue of Green Tara, a female deity embodying the activities of all the Buddhas. In July 2009 the statue was taken to the Osel Ling Retreat Centre in the Alpujarra Mountains near Granada where it was installed in the centre of a manmade lake. In 2006 Bertrand was commissioned to make and paint a life size sculpture of the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo for the altar at Maitripa Univeristy, Portland, Oregon USA.

Bertrand Cayla lives close to Nalanda Monastery, where he is still often at work. For Nalanda, Bertrand completed a life size clay sculpture of the Buddhist deity Ganapati in 2014. He also produced a large oil and canvas ‘thangka’ of Lama Tsong Khapa which can be seen in Nalanda's big gompa. Recently, he was involved in restoring and making moulds of statues of the Sixteen Arhats sculpted by Jonathan Partridge on the request of Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

You can find more information about Bertrand Cayla on his own website.

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{SchuWebGallery: images/galleries/BuddhaShakyamuni}

Jonathan PartridgeJonathan Partridge was born in the United Kingdom in 1971. He studied at Queensland University of Technology (Australia) and completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts there in 1992. From 1996 to 1997 he studied and practiced Buddhist sculpture in Nepal under the guidance of the Bhutanese master sculptor Kunchog Palden. He continued his studies for several years under the Tibetan master sculptors and painters Sonam Wangchuk and Kelsang Lodro Oshoe in India (1998-2005). He created various artworks commissioned from Kopan and in Tushita Institute in Dharamsala he sculpted the Sixteen Arhats, destined for Nalanda Monastery.

In 2006-2007 Jonathan lived in Lavaur (France) with his family while working on creating the Shakyamuni Statue for Nalanda Monastery's new large gompa and designing other holy objects. From 2008 to 2009 he worked in Thailand and Australia as the artistic director for Jade Buddha Project. He helped to create the face of this Buddha statue that was modelled on the Buddha statue of the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya.

Currently, he lives in Tasmania, an island offshore from Australia, creating both secular, and religious works.


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